Perhaps validating what public opinion have been showing for some time, the House voted in Friday’s wee hours to prohibit the federal government from interfering with medical marijuana laws passed by 32 states and the District of Columbia.
Yes — that’s the Republican-led House that did the voting. And it include 49 actual Republicans among the 218 yes votes. Lead among them: California Rep. Rohrabacher, who once upon a time worked for Ronald Reagan, the president who made the “War on Drugs” a national priority.
Given the public’s increasing friendliness on this issue, President Obama’s blatantly broken promises on medical marijuana enforcement, and the potential for the issue to soften new audiences on the GOP brand, this isn’t a bad move to make. On the principles, federalism’s not a bad place to stand, though plenty will disagree.
The times they are a-changin’. The most this issue had garnered in the past was 165 votes in 2007.
“Despite this overwhelming shift in public opinion, the federal government continues its hard line of oppression against medical marijuana,” Rohrabacher said.
The amendment attracted the support of a bipartisan coalition in favor of legalized marijuana.
“This train has already left the station,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), whose state allows the use of medical marijuana. “The problem is that the federal government’s getting in the way.”
Now, I’m sure the press will decide en masse that this is an utterly silly endeavor not worthy of the time of the House because it’s unlikely it will pass the Senate in this exact form. This is basically obstructionism and temper tantrum throwing, right? Aren’t those the new rules of legislating now that Republicans hold the House? Nope. On this issue, which liberals are friendly to, the will of the House now matters again:
Democratic Rep. Jared Polis, whose state of Colorado is actually allowing , said fixating on what happens next in the congressional process misses the larger point.
“The will of the House is important on this issue,” Polis said. “Congress is far from leading the country in this regard. Rather, we’re catching up with where the country already is.”