In a dramatic shift from past attitudes about marijuana, the U.S. Senate may soon join the House in barring the DEA from using its budget to crack down on state-sanctioned medical marijuana operations.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, introduced a similar measure this week that would prevent the DEA from using federal funds to pursue medical cannabis in the 22 states where it is legal, like Michigan.
Last month, the House passed a bipartisan amendment – 219-189 – to end the DEA’s assault on cannabis.
Supporters for the Senate measure are speaking out and include Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., as the co-sponsor.
“Poll after poll shows 70-80 percent of Americans support medical marijuana,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project. “Even among conservatives, most oppose enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states where marijuana is legal for some purpose. Having two rising stars like Rand Paul and Cory Booker team up to introduce this amendment just shows how popular the issue has become, and that our outdated federal marijuana laws are inevitably going to change.”
Despite more progressive attitudes toward marijuana among states and the Obama administration, the DEA has zealously pursued medical cannabis users and growers.
If the Senate approves the measure, it would need approval from President Obama, who has urged the Justice Department to respect state marijuana laws.