Hinchey-Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment

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The Hinchey-Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment (House Amendment 272) is legislation that prevents the Drug Enforcement Administration from spending money to prevent the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. Its passage in 2014 was the first time either chamber of Congress had voted for marijuana reform legislation, and is viewed as the first significant federal victory for advocates to legalize and regulate marijuana.[1] The amendment was first offered by Representatives Maurice Hinchey and Dana Rohrabacher to amend the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill, H.R. 3093, on July 25, 2007 in the U.S. Congress. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 262-165[2] and five more times subsequently through 2012. Eventually, the Amendment was passed by the US House on May 29, 2014,[3][4] becoming the first time either chamber of Congress had ever voted in favor of a measure to relax federal marijuana laws or enforcement.[5] Despite not receiving an up-or-down vote in the Senate, the amendment was included by both houses of Congress in December 2014 as part of a $1.1 trillion spending bill.[6] The full text of the 2014 House Amendment is as follows:

SEC. 558. None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.

In October 2015 a federal judge limited the applicability of a federal injunction against operation of a medical marijuana dispensary. The ruling is seen as broadly limiting the DEA and Department of Justice's ability to enforce federal marijuana laws in states where medical marijuana is legal under state law.[7]


As of 2007, there had been only seven House floor votes on medical marijuana in U.S. history. The first House vote on the issue was on a non-binding resolution opposing medical marijuana that passed by a 311-94 margin in 1998.[8]

The Hinchey amendment has been introduced on the House floor eight times. The vote totals are as follows.

Year Ayes Noes
2003 152 273
2004* 148 268
2005 161 264
2006 163 259
2007 165 262
2012* 163 262
2014 219 189
2015 242 186
  • In 2004, the amendment was introduced by Congressmen Sam Farr (D-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). Representative Hinchey was on medical leave at the time. In 2012, following Hinchey's retirement, the amendment was again introduced by Rohrabacher.


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