The GOP-controlled House surprised just about everyone when it voted 218 to 189 for a pro-medical marijuana amendment on Friday. The amendment, tacked onto the much larger criminal justice funding bill (H.R. 4660), would prohibit the Department of Justice (DOJ) from using federal taxpayer funds to interfere with medical marijuana laws in 22 states that have passed them.
The House vote was historic. It was the first time since the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 that the majority of a chamber of Congress voted in favor of something that would alter national marijuana policy.
Unanswered questions linger about the amendment, however: Will the Senate allow the amendment to remain attached to the funding bill? Will it then acquire the necessary signature from Obama? And if passed, will this mark the beginning of the marijuana policy paradigm shift that a majority of American voters are hoping for? (Polls have shown more than 51 percent voter support for across the board legalization and there is 81 percent support for medical cannabis.)
The bipartisan amendment was co-authored by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Sam Farr (D-Calif.). In the House, 170 Democrats and 49 Republicans voted in favor of the amendment; 172 Republicans and 17 Democrats voted against it. (A complete breakdown of votes is available here.)
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