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Samantha Felix Samantha Felix

House Votes to Ban DEA From Raiding Medical Marijuana Operations


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Colorado dispensary raid. Photo via

A Colorado dispensary raid. Photo via Associated Press/Elaine Thompson

Early this morning, the US House of Representatives voted, 219–189, to prohibit the Drug Enforcement Administration from raiding state-licensed medical marijuana patients and providers. The bipartisan measure was designed to stop the DEA from undermining existing state medical marijuana laws.

“This historic vote shows just how quickly marijuana reform has become a mainstream issue,” explains Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, ”and it’s clear that more politicians are beginning to realize that the American people want the federal government to stop standing in the way. If any political observers weren’t aware that the end of the war on marijuana is nearing, they just found out.”

Politicians, nurses, and patients joined a teleconference today to discuss the bill and the possible next steps. Moderated by Bill Piper, the director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, the call involved Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA), amendment lead sponsor; Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN), the amendment co-sponsor; and Congressman Barbara Lee (D-CA), amendment co-sponsor. All agreed that the bill’s passage shows a general shift in attitudes to medical marijuana on the federal level, demonstrating what Piper calls, “a new consensus based on compassion, health and human rights.”

Sam Farr declared “a need for a more humane approach to our drug policy in this country.” A New Jersey medical marijuana patient with Multiple Sclerosis also joined the call—illustrating Farr’s point, she described the daily stress she is under, not only as a result of managing her chronic illness but because of the fear of one day being arrested for using the only drug that alleviates her constant nausea and insomnia.

“People deserve better,” said Barbara Lee, referring to federal interference in state marijuana laws. “When democracy works as it has, why in the world would the federal government go in and try to undermine the will of the people?”

This discussion hasn’t stopped there. Social media has been buzzing about the historic vote. Sanho Tree, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he is director of the Drug Policy Project, tweeted:

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 1.43.53 PM

 

On the other side of the fence, Project SAM, an organization campaigning for marijuana to remain illegal, had this to say:

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 1.46.17 PM

In other words: The battle isn’t won yet.

But for Congresswoman Lee this all comes down to one point: “The justice better back down. All of us who have been on this for years will once again be right in front of them, saying: Back off. Let democracy work.” Sing it!