The U.S. House of Representatives still has the power to shock and it did so recently when it voted to block the federal government from interfering with states that permit use of medical marijuana.
Democrats, as well as libertarian-minded and moderate Republicans, banded together to pass the amendment to the bill funding the Justice Department’s budget by a 219-189 vote. All-in-all 49 Republicans broke rank to vote in favor of the provision (4 out of 5 Republicans opposed the amendment).
Nearly half the states in the union have legalized use of marijuana for medical purposes. However, the federal government still considers the sale, distribution and use of the drug illegal. This dichotomy in state law versus federal law has been a conundrum for authorities since California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana use.
The federal government has proven that it is prepared to step into the fray and has raided medical marijuana dispensaries in both California and Washington.
This move by the House appears to be the first attempt to address this problem.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacker, the conservative Republican from California who introduced the measure, said that opinion about the use of medical marijuana is shifting and that 61 percent of Republicans now support it.
New Jersey currently has medical marijuana laws on the books, but they are very limited in scope. Governor Chris Christie has proven recalcitrant in approving expansion of medical marijuana use and has vowed that he will never vote for legalized recreational marijuana use in the state. The current U.S. House measure does not take into account the states of Washington and Colorado, which allow recreational use of marijuana.
New Jersey legislators have tried and failed to pass laws that would legalize marijuana in the state. Those lawmakers have vowed to continue their quest.
The U.S. House measure has gone to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future.
The criminal defense attorneys at Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo in New Jersey find this apparent shift in attitude by federal legislators intriguing and will continue to keep track of this measure as it is debated in the Senate. Drug laws and drug law enforcement is constantly shifting on the federal and state level. If you are facing a drug charge, it is essential that you choose a law firm that understands these shifts and changes and is dedicated to protecting your legal rights. Call us at (888) 847-2529 or contact us online for a no-obligation review of your case today.