Amendments Would Prohibit DEA from Undermining State Marijuana Laws; Shut Down DEA’s Controversial Bulk Collection Surveillance Programs; Cut Agency’s Budget
Amendments Come in Wake of Recent Forced Resignation of Agency’s Head, Michele Leonhart
As the U.S. House of Representatives considers the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill today and tomorrow, legislators could vote on at least seven amendments designed to reduce the power of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and cut its budget.
The DEA has existed for more than 40 years, but little attention has been given to the role the agency has played in fueling mass incarceration, racial disparities and other problems exacerbated by the Drug War. Congress has rarely scrutinized the agency, its actions or its budget, instead deferring to DEA administrators on how best to deal with drug-related issues.
That all has changed recently after a series of scandals that sparked several hearings in the House and Senate and forced the resignation of the DEA’s beleaguered head, Administrator Michele Leonhart.
“There’s unprecedented support on both sides of the aisle for ending the federal war on marijuana and letting states set their own drug policies based on science, compassion, health, and human rights,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “The more the DEA blocks sensible reforms the more they will see their agency’s power and budget come under deeper scrutiny.”
The Drug Policy Alliance recently released a new report, The Scandal-Ridden DEA: Everything You Need to Know. The report and a comprehensive set of background resources about our campaign to rein in the DEA are available at www.drugpolicy.org/DEA .
One bipartisan amendment being offered on the House floor would prohibit the DEA from undermining state marijuana laws. It is being offered by Representatives Tom McClintock (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Don Young (R-AK), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).
Currently, 23 states, the District of Columbia and Guam have legalized marijuana for a variety of medicinal purposes – and an additional 16 states have passed laws to allow access to CBD oils, a non-psychotropic component of marijuana that has proven uniquely effective in managing epileptic seizures that afflict children.
Four states – Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington – have legalized marijuana like alcohol. In 2016, voters in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada are expected to decide ballot initiatives on the question of legalizing marijuana for adult use. A slew of recent polls show that significant majorities of both Democrats and Republicans strongly believe that the decision of whether and how to regulate marijuana should be left up to the states.