The Republican-controlled House passed legislation on Thursday to force President Barack Obama to crack down on states that have legalized marijuana in any form.
Introduced by Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the ENFORCE the Law Act (H.R. 4138) would allow the House or the Senate to sue the president for "failure to faithfully execute federal laws," including those related to immigration, health care and marijuana.
"President Obama has established a disturbing pattern of cherry picking the laws he wishes to enforce," Issa said in a statement. "The Constitution charges the President with the responsibility to faithfully execute all the laws and not just the ones he supports."
A Judiciary Committee report submitted by Goodlatte last week regarding H.R. 4138 chastised the Obama administration for selective enforcement of the Controlled Substance Act, which prohibits marijuana outright. "The decision by the Obama administration not to enforce the CSA in entire states is not a a valid exercise of prosecutorial discretion," the report reads. "The guidance of U.S. Attorneys establishes a formal, department-wide policy of selective non-enforcement of an Act of Congress. This infringes on Congress's lawmaking authority, by, in effect, amending the flat prohibitions of the CSA to permit the possession, distribution, and cultivation of marijuana so long as that conduct is in compliance with state law."
The report goes on to describe the Obama administration's actions on marijuana policy as an "impermissible suspension of the law by executive fiat."
But Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) told The Huffington Post that he is not alone in the Capitol in his support of the administration's position not to interfere with state marijuana laws, adding that while states continue to craft sensible marijuana policy, Congress continues to drag its feet with bills like this one.
"It doesn't seem right to me to continue to waste our limited resources punishing people for doing something when it's legal under state law, the majority of Americans want it to be legal, and much more dangerous drugs like heroin are making a comeback," Blumenauer said. "I'd rather stop arresting two–thirds of a million people a year for marijuana possession and generate $100 billion over 10 years through taxes and savings."
Twenty states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana. Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational marijuana. More than a dozen other states are pursuing legalization in some form over the next several years, and a recent poll showed a majority of Americans want marijuana to be legalized.
Still, the federal government continues to ban the plant, classifying it as a Schedule I substance that is among "the most dangerous" drugs, such as heroin and LSD, that are said to have "no currently accepted medical use."
Passed 233-181, all of the votes in support of the bill were from Republicans, alongside five Democrats, including Reps. John Barrow (Ga.), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Pete Gallego (Texas), Henry Cuellar (Texas) and Nick Rahall (W.Va.).
Some Republicans who have supported relaxed federal marijuana legislation in the past voted Thursday in support of the ENFORCE Act, including Rep. Mike Coffman (Colo.), who joined Colorado Democrats in urging federal regulators to give marijuana-related businesses access to traditional financial services, and Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.), Justin Amash (Mich.) and Don Young (Alaska), who sponsored the "Respect State Marijuana Laws Act" in 2013 -- a bill explicitly aimed at preventing the federal government from prosecuting state-legal, state-licensed marijuana businesses and their owners.
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), a sponsor of several marijuana-related bills, told HuffPost that the bill is "not going anywhere in the Senate," where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) confirmed in a statement the bill would be "dead on arrival."
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