Disappointing Showing for Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment to End DEA Medical Marijuana Raids

            Despite the strong shift in last year's election, opponents of the DEA's war on medical marijuana made scant headway in Washington, as Congress rejected a measure to end Dept. of Justice funding for federal medical marijuana raids for the fifth year in a row. The Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, co-sponsored by Orange County Republican Dana Rohrabacher,  was defeated on a vote of 165-262, hardly better than last year's vote of 163-259. 

            As usual, California's delegation voted strongly in favor of the measure, though not by quite as strong a margin as last year.   The state's Democrats voted 26-4 in favor, while Republicans voted 3-17 against. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) spoke on behalf of the amendment on the floor.

            In a surprising vote, freshman Democrat Jerry McNerney (Pleasanton) voted no,  the only Bay Area Congress  member to do so.  In a breathtaking non sequitur, McNerney tried to explain, "We are facing a drug crisis with meth and other drug use on the  Rise.  Until we get a handle on the crippling drug use in our society,  I can not support the relaxation of current drug policy." 

            Other Democrats voting no included Rep. Jim Costa (Fresno), who switched his vote from last year, plus fellow "Valley Democrats" Dennis Cardoza (Merced) and Joe Baca (San Bernardino).

            As usual, Republicans overwhelmingly opposed the measure.  Two Orange County Republicans, John Campbell (Newport Beach) and Ed Royce(Fullerton) joined Rohrabacher in opposing the DEA raids.

            The disappointing outcome reflected several factors:  the continuing lack of interest in DEA medical marijuana raids outside California;  the political  strength of the DEA in Washington DC;  and the essential legislative  weakness of the amendment itself, which did not try to change federal law but rather to withhold funding for its enforcement, a clumsy and imperfect remedy for fixing bad laws.   Congressional insiders say it will require a change of leadership in the White House to effect any change in federal marijuana policy.

  Congressional vote at

Vote on Hinchey-Rohrabacher: 165 to 262

150 D say yes, 80 say no

15 R say yes, 182 say no

2 more Yes votes than last year

3 more No votes

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