By Lydia Wheeler - 11/13/14 02:26 PM EST
A bipartisan group of House members urged Congress on Thursday to stay out of the way of building momentum toward marijuana legalization in states around the country.
Joining Democratic representatives from Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia, which all passed ballot initiatives last week legalizing the use of recreational marijuana by adults, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) called upon GOP lawmakers to honor the will of voters.
“The fundamental principles are individual liberties, which Republicans have always talked about; limited government, which Republicans have always talked about; doctor-patient relationships, which of course we’ve been stressing a lot about lately; and of course, states’ rights and the 10th Amendment,” he said.
The House has already passed measures to cut funding for Drug Enforcement Agency raids on medical marijuana operations and prohibit the Treasury Department from penalizing banks that service dispensaries.
“I’m confident in the new Congress with new members, we’ll have an even stronger working majority when we have test votes on these subjects.” Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) said.
To date, 23 states have approved medical marijuana, 18 states have decriminalized it and four states and the District of Columbia have legalized adult recreational use.
But Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said members of the House are already looking for ways to overturn D.C.’s legalization.
“A Department of Justice official testified that the District of Columbia law would be treated like the laws of the states, however, the city has already faced an attempt by the House of Representatives to overturn our marijuana decriminalization, and now we’ve had a threat to try overturn over legalization initiative."
With limited resources for the criminal justice department, Rohrabacher said it’s counterproductive to prosecute people for smoking pot in their backyards.
“Let’s have a common sense approach to this,” he said. “Let’s not waste tax dollars and oppress people with big government. Let’s leave these issues up to the states and strike a blow for liberty.”
Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerOvernight Finance: House GOP grills IRS chief on impeachment | Bipartisan anger over Iran payment | Fed holds rates steady but hints at coming hike Panel votes to extend nuclear power tax credit DEA decision against reclassifying marijuana ignores public opinion MORE (D-Ore.) said the ultimate way to stop the federal government from interfering with state laws would be to changing how marijuana is classified under the Controlled Substances Act.
Currently marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 drug, putting it on par with heroin and LSD.
“Marijuana should not be a Schedule 1 [drug]. It’s not more dangerous than methamphetamines or cocaine,” Blumenauer said.
“Or tequila,” Rohrabacher added.
Though Congress could move to reschedule the drug, Blumenauer said, he thinks that would have long odds of passing.