An Unlikely Defender Of State Pot Laws

Apr 30, 2013

Orange County Rep.  Dana Rohrabacher Is Hop­ing More Col­leagues Are Start­ing to See Things His Way. WASHINGTON – For more than a decade, con­ser­v­a­tive Orange County Rep.  Dana Rohrabacher has formed an unusual alliance with lib­er­als on an unex­pected topic – the defense of mar­i­juana. Rohrabacher ( R-Huntington Beach ) and his allies have so far waged a futile effort to pass leg­is­la­tion that would pre­vent fed­eral author­i­ties from inter­fer­ing with med­ical mar­i­juana use in Cal­i­for­nia and other places where pot use is per­mit­ted by state law. But as more states have moved to allow the drug’s use, Rohrabacher believes his Respect State Mar­i­juana Laws Act may be gain­ing momen­tum in Con­gress. The recently rein­tro­duced mea­sure would shield from fed­eral pros­e­cu­tion peo­ple act­ing in accor­dance with their states’ mar­i­juana laws, includ­ing new Col­orado and Wash­ing­ton laws that allow adult recre­ational use of the drug. “The prospects are much bet­ter now,” said Rohrabacher, whose co-sponsors include Rep.  Bar­bara Lee ( D-Oakland ), a Bay Area lib­eral who is usu­ally about as far apart ide­o­log­i­cally from Rohrabacher as any­body in Con­gress. Still, Rohrabacher has his work cut out for him.  The House last year soundly rejected, by a 262–163 vote, an effort he led to block the use of fed­eral funds to pre­vent states from imple­ment­ing med­ical mar­i­juana laws.  Only 28 Repub­li­cans sup­ported the mea­sure. Rohrabacher has a lib­er­tar­ian bent but became more inter­ested in the med­ical ben­e­fits of mar­i­juana after hav­ing to spoon-feed his dying mother because of her loss of appetite.  He has talked about the relief that mar­i­juana might have afforded her. He has been embold­ened by a recent Pew Research Cen­ter poll that showed respon­dents, by nearly 2 to 1, believe the fed­eral gov­ern­ment should not enforce fed­eral laws pro­hibit­ing the use of mar­i­juana in states where it is legal. Per­haps as impor­tant as the shift­ing pub­lic opin­ion, he said in an inter­view, is his col­leagues’ eager­ness to erase Washington’s red ink.  Sub­stan­tial majori­ties of Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats in the Pew sur­vey regarded fed­eral enforce­ment of anti-marijuana laws as not worth the cost. “If peo­ple of the states rec­og­nize what a waste of lim­ited resources this is, then the fed­eral gov­ern­ment should respect what the peo­ple of those states want for their own crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem,” Rohrabacher said. Since 1996, when Cal­i­for­nia became the first state to legal­ize the drug’s use for med­ical treat­ment, 17 other states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia have approved med­ical mar­i­juana mea­sures.  Last year, Col­orado and Wash­ing­ton state vot­ers opted to allow recre­ational users to pos­sess an ounce of mar­i­juana.  A move is under­way to put a mea­sure on the Alaska bal­lot to per­mit recre­ational use of the drug. Efforts are under­way in other states, includ­ing Idaho, Illi­nois and New Hamp­shire, to allow med­i­c­i­nal use of mar­i­juana. Rohrabacher also is hop­ing to con­vince GOP col­leagues that his bill fits with the party’s tra­di­tional sup­port for states’ rights. “It is time that we respect states’ rights, get seri­ous about pri­or­i­tiz­ing our fed­eral government’s activ­i­ties, and show some com­mon sense and com­pas­sion when deal­ing with the sick among us,” Rohrabacher said last year when he pro­posed his mea­sure. How­ever, Rep.  Frank R.  Wolf ( R-Va.  ), chair­man of the appro­pri­a­tions sub­com­mit­tee that over­sees Jus­tice Depart­ment spend­ing, responded at the time: “If a state said sex traf­fick­ing is OK, would we honor that?…  States, in the past, have done some things that have not been good in this coun­try.” The president’s drug czar, R.  Gil Ker­likowske, recently said at the National Press Club that the Jus­tice Depart­ment was respon­si­ble for enforc­ing the Con­trolled Sub­stances Act, and “that remains unchanged.  No state, no exec­u­tive, can nul­lify a statute that’s been passed by Con­gress.” Kevin Sabet, a for­mer advi­sor to Ker­likowske, said Rohrabacher’s lat­est attempt would “likely suf­fer the same fate as his sev­eral pre­vi­ous attempts that have failed over the past decade.” Steve Fox, national polit­i­cal direc­tor for the Mar­i­juana Pol­icy Project, which pro­motes legal­iza­tion, regards the bill as a long shot in this con­gres­sional ses­sion.  But he said the leg­is­la­tion “sends the mes­sage that it is sim­ply not a ratio­nal use of fed­eral law enforce­ment resources to pros­e­cute and imprison indi­vid­u­als who are act­ing in com­pli­ance with state mar­i­juana laws.” Source: Los Ange­les Times (CA) Copy­right: 2013 Los Ange­les Times Con­tact: letters@​latimes.​com Web­site: http://​www​.latimes​.com/ Author: Richard Simon

e7c8a121f20x5011.jpg 150x117 An Unlikely Defender Of State Pot Laws

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An Unlikely Defender Of State Pot Laws

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