By Phillip Smith
Just last week, in a series of successful amendments to the Justice Department appropriations bill, the House sent a clear message to the DEA and DOJ to stop interfering in medical marijuana states. This week, a similar message came from the Senate.
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted two-to-one this weekin favor of an amendment from Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) that prohibits the Justice Department, including the DEA, from using federal funds to interfere in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.
While the appropriations bill must still be approved by the Senate as a whole, both houses of Congress are now on record as telling the DEA to butt out of medical marijuana states. The passage of identical amendments in both houses is a good indicator that they will be included in the spending bill when it gets to President Obama’s desk.
While the House has passed similar amendments for the last two years, this is the first time it was offered in the Senate. It mirrors the provisions of the CARERS Act ( HR 1538 / S.683 ), introduced earlier this year, but because a ban in an appropriations bill expires at the end of the fiscal year, advocates are still calling for the CARERS Act to move.
The vote was an impressive 21-9, with the only Democrat voting against it being Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Republicans split right down the middle, with eight opposing and eight supporting.
Drug reform advocates were pleased.