Early this morning, by a vote of 219 to 189, the House of Representatives approved an amendment aimed at stopping federal interference with state laws that "authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana." The amendment, which would have to pass muster in the Senate to take effect, prohibits the Justice Department, which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration, from spending taxpayers' money on dispensary raids or other attempts to stop medical use of marijuana in the 22 states that allow it.
Similar meaures have failed in the House six times since 2003. This year the amendment attracted record support from Republicans, 49 of whom voted yes, compared to 28 last time around. "This measure passed because it received more support from Republicans than ever before," says Dan Riffle of the Marijuana Policy Project. "It is refreshing to see conservatives in Congress sticking to their conservative principles when it comes to marijuana policy. Republicans increasingly recognize that marijuana prohibition is a failed Big Government program that infringes on states' rights." Before the vote, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, argued in Politico that it "ought to be an easy 'yes' vote for members of the 10th Amendment Task Force on Capitol Hill and other believers in limited government and federalism."
The 10th Amendment Task Force, founded in 2010, is a project of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), where conservative legislators are supposed to develop policies consistent with their principles. How many founding members of the RSC task force devoted to the 10th Amendment voted for federalism this morning? Four out of nine, which is one more than last time. Rep. Ron Bishop (R-Utah), founder and chairman of the task force, voted no in 2012 but changed his mind this year, joining Reps. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Cynthis Lummis (R-Wyo.), and Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) in the yes column. Reps. John Culberson (R-Texas), Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), Mike Conaway (R-Texas), and Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) voted no. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who voted no in 2012, did not vote this time.