Senate Democrats Consider Defunding Raids Of Legal Medical Marijuana Operations

The Republican-controlled House passed a bill to restrict DEA raids in states where medical marijuana is legal. Will the Senate do the same?

WASHINGTON — Key Senate Democrats say they would be open to a measure defunding Drug Enforcement Agency raids on medical marijuana facilities in states where the businesses are legal.

But it's unclear whether anyone on the Appropriations Committee — the committee that determines how the country spends its money — will introduce such an amendment. None of the senators on the committee who were approached by BuzzFeed had seen one.

"I've always supported the availability of medical marijuana," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee. "We are not an authorizing committee, we are a funding committee. But I will have an open amendment process. If a member offers an amendment, we'll see where we are."

A similar amendment narrowly passed the Republican-controlled House for the first time last week.

The House version lists 33 specific states where targeting medical marijuana facilities would be defunded. They include the 22 states and the District of Columbia where medical marijuana is legal, but also states where recreational marijuana has been legalized and states where only cannabidiol (CBD) oils have been approved.

Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin said he "might support" such an amendment if it were proposed, though he didn't appear to have heard about the issue before a reporter brought it up to him.

"Why would they raid them if it's legal?" he asked.

California Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein said she would oppose such an amendment if one were proposed.

The Senate's $51.2 billion version of the appropriations bill that governs spending for the Department of Justice and the DEA is still being marked up. The bill will be considered by the full Appropriations Committee on Thursday.