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House defends states against DEA crackdowns on medical marijuana

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Photo by Steve Neavling

The DEA’s assault on state-sanctioned medical marijuana operations may finally come to an end under a measure passed late Thursday by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bipartisan amendment, approved 219-189, would bar the DEA from using federal funds to pursue medical cannabis in states where it is legal, like Michigan.

The vote is significant because it marks a seismic change in Congressional attitudes toward marijuana.

“We are nearing a point now where the United States Congress is essentially ready to end marijuana prohibition,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project.

The bill, which still has hurdles to clear, seeks to end DEA raids of cannabis dispensaries that comply with state law.

Michigan is among 22 states that allow the medical use of marijuana.

Thursday’s measure must now get approval from the Senate.

Related: Poll finds most Michigan voters oppose legalizing recreational pot

“This historic vote shows just how quickly marijuana reform has become a mainstream issue,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. “The last time a similar amendment came up it didn’t come very close to passing but, since then, more states have passed medical marijuana laws and a couple have even legalized marijuana for all adults. More states are on this way later this year and in 2016, and it’s clear that more politicians are beginning to realize that the American people want the federal government to stop standing in the way. If any political observers weren’t aware that the end of the war on marijuana is nearing, they just found out.”

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