A measure to eliminate federal funding for raids on legitimate medical marijuana businesses met a quick death late last night in the House of Representatives.
The development highlights the significant hurdles medical cannabis faces on the federal level, where opposition remains strong despite growing support nationwide.
The bill sputtered shortly after it was introduced, with 262 lawmakers voting against it and 163 backing the measure. Congressional leaders debated the proposal for about 45 minutes, with Democratic Reps. Barney Frank (Massachusetts), Maurice Hinchey (New York), Jerold Nadler (New York) and Steve Cohen (Tennessee) and Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (California) speaking in favor of the initiative.
The proposal – called the Rohrabacher-Hinchey-Farr Amendment – would have blocked the government from funneling money into raids on medical cannabis businesses that are complying with state guidelines and regulations. The federal government has spearheaded dozens of such raids over the past year in several states, including California, Montana and Washington.
Despite the fact that the bill was sponsored by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, voting split along party lines. Nearly 75% of Democratic representatives supported the measure, while less than 10% of Republicans in the House voted for the bill.
The bright spot is that 163 lawmakers support the idea and were willing to do so publicly. This high-level backing underscores the fundamental shift occurring in the United States regarding medical marijuana, and all signs point to a continuation of this trend.