U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California’s 48th congressional district is one of two Republicans in the Cannabis Caucus. We recently reached out to the office of Rep. Rohrabache to ask about his attitudes towards legal marijuana:
Cannabis Regulator: Why did Rep. Rohrabacher make cannabis an issue of focus?
Rep. Rohrabacher’s Office: Rep. Rohrabacher first became involved in the issue as a co-sponsor in 2001 of an amendment (known then as the “Hinchey-Rohrabacher” amendment) to the CJS appropriations bill that would have barred the Department of Justice from using funds to prosecute those in compliance with their medical marijuana laws.
The amendment was first offered only five years after California became the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, and fit with the Congressman’s long-held belief that the vast majority of criminal justice issues should be handled by state and local authorities—not the federal government.
His involvement has steadily grown since them.
In 2012, he took over as the primary sponsor of the provision, won the vote on the House floor for the first time in 2014, and introduced standalone legislation known as the “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013” (H.R. 1523).
CR: What does he hope to accomplish with the Cannabis Caucus?
RO: It is his hope that the caucus will provide members of Congress with a forum to learn about the growing disparity between state and federal law on this issue, as well as an opportunity to work together to establish a more rational approach to federal cannabis policy.
CR: Does Rep. Rohrabache foresee federal crackdown on legal cannabis under Attorney General Sessions?
RO: The White House has already indicated, through spokesperson Sean Spicer, its understanding that Congress has, through the “Rohrabacher-Farr” provision, barred the Department of Justice from going after those who are acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. The provision also seems to be consistent with President Trump’s stated position on the issue of medicinal cannabis.
Federal courts have also held up the provision, so any attempt to circumvent Congress on this issue would be doubly wasteful.
Whether or not they decide to crack down on recreational use, production, etc., however, is another matter, and is something Congressman Rohrabacher is working to prevent.
CR: Does Rep. Rohrabache foresee stricter laws against illegal cannabis under Attorney General Sessions?
RO: The only way to create stricter laws is for Congress to pass legislation on the issue. Since Congress has in recent years consistently shown that it wants to go in the opposite direction, it seems highly unlikely that any attempt to enact stricter cannabis laws could be successful.
CR: Does Rep. Rohrabache believe that government officials who regulate alcohol markets are the proper people to regulate cannabis markets?
RO: Congressman Rohrabacher’s strong preference is to have the issue, including regulation, handled by the states, and not the federal government.
CR: What about the states with legal cannabis markets most impresses Rep. Rohrbacher? What potential areas of improvement does he see with the existing legal cannabis markets?
RO: Rep. Rohrabacher would prefer to leave state cannabis laws to the states and not comment on which states have the best laws or how such state laws could be improved.