WASHINGTON, May 30 (UPI) -- Just after midnight Friday, congress voted to approve an amendment that would bar federal agencies from holding raids in states that allow medical marijuana.
If the amendment passes, the Senate, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Justice Department would have to halt all efforts to curb the distribution and cultivation of marijuana in states that legally "authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana."
"Congress is officially pulling out of the war on medical marijuana patients and providers," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. "Federal tax dollars will no longer be wasted arresting seriously ill medical marijuana patients and those who provide to them."
"This is a historic vote, and it's yet another sign that our federal government is shifting toward a more sensible marijuana policy."
In a joint editorial published earlier this week, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist and Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, urged house Republicans to vote for the measure, writing, "Almost half of all Americans now live in a state where medical marijuana is legal to one degree or another."
"But patients and their families, as well as medical marijuana providers, must still worry about the threat of federal interference in the form of militarized police raids, arrest, seizure of property, and federal prosecution for merely following the recommendations of doctors in accordance with state law."
The measure passed 219-189. Although votes were mostly along party lines, with Democrats favoring the measure and Republicans opposing, the bill was carried to victory by a bipartisan coalition that included 49 Republican "aye" votes.