When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That’s definitely the motto of California Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Over the past four years he’s twice introduced legislation to end Federal marijuana prohibition in states where it has already been legalized. Rohrabacher’s bill would exempt citizens who consume, sell, or otherwise engage with marijuana in those states from prosecution under Federal law. It’s a strict states’ rights argument that principled conservatives should be able to get behind without question. Now, Dana Rohrabacher has introduced the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act once more is hoping the third time will be the charm.
This isn’t the first time that Dana Rohrabacher has stood up for states’ rights on marijuana issues. All the way back in 2003 he introduced a rider to prohibit the DOJ from spending funds enforcing Federal law in states that had legalized medical marijuana. The amendment eventually became law in 2014. Naturally, Rohrabacher was also one of the first to introduce legislation to protect states that had legalized recreational marijuana as well. The first time he proposed his Respect State Marijuana Laws in early 2013, it didn’t advance past committee. The second time, in late 2015, Rohrabacher earned more than twenty bi-partisan co-sponsors but the bill still didn’t pass.
Rohrabacher is hoping that this time will be different given the multitude of states that haven now legalized recreational marijuana; including his own California. The Republican Congressman endorsed Prop 64 which passed in November of 2016 to legalize the drug. Earlier that year, Rohrabacher himself became the first sitting Congressman to admit that he used medical marijuana. He’s also one of the founding members of the House’s new bi-partisan Cannabis Caucus. The group was formed earlier this year to organize support for marijuana legalization related legislation and will be sponsoring a variety of bills.
With the changing political climate, and the President’s purported support for states’ rights on drug issues, now is the time to finally reconcile state and Federal law. Dana Rohrabacher’s bill to prohibit Federal enforcement in states that have legalized marijuana is an easy first step that should be able to receive broad bi-partisan support in both houses. Here’s to hoping his persistence will finally pay off.