This session produced a historic breakthrough for marijuana reform as the House of Representatives voted 219-189 in May to approve a bipartisan amendment by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) and Sam Farr (D-Monterey) to deny funding to the Department of Justice for operations that would hinder states from implementing their medical marijuana laws. Similar funding bans had been defeated on several previous votes dating back to 2002. This time, the amendment passed thanks to growing support from Republicans, 49 of whom joined 170 Democrats to approve the bill, versus 172 Republicans and 17 Democrats opposed. A similar budget amendment by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) to prevent DOJ from blocking state industrial hemp laws passed by 237-170.

The House followed up with another historic vote in July, approving amendment 1086 to H.R. 5016, the Financial Services appropriations bill, to prevent the Treasury Department from spending funds penalizing banks that accept deposits from marijuana businesses. The vote was 231-192. The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) along with Rep. Rohrabacher and Barbara Lee. Earlier in the year, an amendment by Rep. Blumenauer to a military appropriations act allowing VA doctors to discuss medical marijuana with their patients failed to pass the House on a 222-195 vote.

In June, Senators Rand Paul(R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced a Senate amendment to the Justice Department budget bill similar to the successful House DEA de-funding amendment. California Senator Dianne Feinstein denounced the measure, which wasn't brought to a vote. In another move, Paul filed amendment 3630 to a jobs bill in the Senate, allowing states to "enact and implement laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of marijuana for medical use" without fear of federal prosecution.

In another historic breakthough, a bill to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp for research purposes was approved and passed into law. The bill passed thanks to Republican support from Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul, both from Kentucky, formerly a leading hemp-producing state. In another key vote, a bill by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) to allow medical marijuana at VA hospitals failed by a narrow margin. However, the House soundly defeated an amendment by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) to cut DEA's budget. Polis called the leadership of DEA chief Michele Leonhart "terrible" and asked for her resignation.

Numerous other, farther-reaching reform bills were introduced this session but were never brought to a hearing due to opposition from prohibitionist committee chairmen appointed by Republican Speaker John Boehner. Prospects for reform would improve were Democrats to regain the majority, as minority leader Nancy Pelosi has stated that marijuana reform should be an important Congressional priority. However, chances of a Democratic majority seem remote in this year's election. By and large, Democrats have voted well on drug reform issues, while Republicans have voted poorly. However, Republican disaffection from the war on drugs has been growing under the influence of libertarian-leaning spokesmen such as Rep. Rohrabacher and Sen. Rand Paul.

The table below shows the voting record of Congress on key cannabis-related issues this session.

(A) Rohrabacher-Farr Medical Marijuana Budget Amendment to bar the Department of Justice from spending funds to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. Approved by the House 219-189 on May 30, 2014. The California delegation voted the same way on a similar DOJ budget amendment by Rep. Bonamici to let states allow industrial hemp, with the exception of Rep. Karen Bass (D-LA), who inexplicably voted in favor of hemp but against medical marijuana. [Rohrabacher-Farr: HR 4660 Amdt 748 Roll Call Vote 258; Bonamici: HR 4660 Amdt 745 Roll Call Vote 257]

(A1) Heck MJ Business Banking Amendment. In July, the House also approved an amendment by Rep. Denny Heck to block federal spending to penalize financial institutions for providing services to medical marijuana businesses (Roll Call Vote 418).

(B) Cut DEA Spending: Budget amendment by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) to reduce DEA salaries and expenses by $35 million. Failed 66-339 (Democrats 41-146; Republicans 25-193). [HR 4660 Amdt 719 Roll Call Vote 250]

(C) Industrial Hemp Research Amendment. In a historic breakthrough for cannabis reform, a farm bill amendment by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) legalized the growing of industrial hemp for research purposes was approved by the House by a vote of 225-200, marking the first time in history that a cannabis reform bill has been approved by Congress. Democrats voted 162 - 32 in favor, Republicans 63-168 against. President Obama signed the bill, setting the stage for the first legal industrial hemp cultivation in the U.S. since the 1950s. [HR 1947 Amdt 208 Roll Call Vote 269]

(D) Veterans Equal Access Amendment: Amendment to the Veterans Appropriations Act by Rep. Blumenauer (D-OR), Farr (D-Monterey), and Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) would have allowed VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana in states where legal. The bill failed on a relatively close 195-222 vote, with Democrats 173-18 in favor and Republicans 22-204 against. [HR 4486 Amdt 630 Roll Call Vote 186]

Other Marijuana Reform Bills Introduced: In addition to nine pro-reform bills, a couple of anti-marijuana bills and neutral reform measures were introduced but not voted on in this Congress.

Pro-Reform Bills Introduced:

(1) Respect State Marijuana Laws Act (HR 1523) by Rep. Dan Rorhrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), would protect persons acting in compliance with state marijuana laws from federal prosecution.
(2) Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act (HR 2652) by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), would allow banks to provide services to marijuana businesses.
(3) States' Medical Marijuana Protection Act (HR 689) by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), would provide for rescheduling and for medical use of marijuana in accordance with state laws.
(4) States' Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act (HR 784) by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), would protect property from civil forfeiture due to medical-marijuana-related conduct authorized by state law.
(5) Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act (HR 499) by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), would decriminalize marijuana at federal level and let states regulate it in a manner similar to alcohol.
(6) Marijuana Tax Equity Act(HR 501) by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), would impose a federal tax on and legalize marijuana production, import and commerce.
(7) Small Business Tax Equity Act (HR 2240) by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), would allow marijuana businesses to take standard business tax deductions.
(8) National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy Act (HR 1635) by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) would establish a commission to reconcile federal and state marijuana laws.
(9) Truth in Trials Act (HR 710) by Rep. Sam Farr (D-Monterey) would provide an affirmative defense in federal court for medical use of marijuana in accordance with state law.

Anti-Marijuana Bills Introduced:

(10) No Welfare for Weed Act (HR 4142) by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) would prohibit use of federal food and nutrition act benefit payments at stores that offer marijuana.
(11) Preserving Welfare for Needs Not Weed Act (HR 4137) by Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) would prohibit state block grant assistance funds for needy families from being used at any store that offers marijuana for sale.

Other Marijuana-Related Bills Introduced:

(12) PLANT Act (HR 2735) by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-North Coast) would direct the US Sentencing Commission to enhance penalties for drug offenses involving use of poisonous chemicals, water diversion, or vegetation removal.
(13) Lucid Act (HR 4179) by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) would require states where marijuana use, medical or otherwise, is legal to establish and enforce unspecified sanctions against driving while intoxicated by marijuana.


The following table lists (1) how California Congressmembers voted on the Industrial Hemp Research Amendement; and (2) which if any other cannabis-related bills they co-sponsored.

Pro-reform positions are in green; Anti-reform in red; Neutral in black.

Dist. LastName FirstName Party City

(A) Respect
State MMJ Laws

(A1) Allow Bank Services for MJ

Cut DEA Budget

Industrial Hemp

Vets Access
to MMJ

Bills CoSponsored
c01 LaMalfa Doug R Redding N N N N N 10,12
c02 Huffman Jared D Eureka Y Y N Y Y 2,3,5,12
c03 Garamendi John D Vacaville Y Y N Y Y 12
c04 McClintock Tom R Granite Bay Y Y N Y Y Co-sponsored Rohrabacher-Farr amendment
c05 Thompson Mike D Santa Rosa Y Y Y Y Y 12
c06 Matsui Doris D Sacramento Y Y N Y Y
c07 Bera Ami D Roseville Y Y N Y Y
c08 Cook Paul R Barstow N N N N N 10,12
c09 McNerney Jerry D Stockton Y Y Y Y Y
c10 Denham Jeff R Modesto N N N N N
c11 Miller George D Concord Y Y Y Y Y 1,3
c12 Pelosi Nancy D San Francisco Y Y Y Y Y
c13 Lee Barbara D Oakland Y Y Y Y Y 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9
c14 Speier Jackie D San Mateo Y Y Y Y Y
c15 Swalwell Eric D Fremont Y Y N Y Y 3,4,5,6,9
c16 Costa Jim D Merced Y Y N Y Y
c17 Honda Mike D Sunnyvale Y Y Y A Y 3,5
c18 Eshoo Anna D Palo Alto Y Y Y Y Y
c19 Lofgren Zoe D San Jose Y Y Y Y Y 3
c20 Farr Sam D Carmel Y Y Y Y Y 1,2,3,4,7,8
c21 Valadao David R Hanford N N N Y N
c22 Nunes Devin R Visalia N N N N N 11
c23 McCarthy Kevin R Bakersfield N N N N N
c24 Capps Lois D Santa Barbara Y Y Y Y Y
c25 McKeon Howard "Buck" R Palmdale N N A N N
c26 Brownley Julia D Camarillo Y Y N Y Y
c27 Chu Judy D Pasadena Y Y N Y Y
c28 Schiff Adam D Burbank Y Y N Y Y
c29 Cardenas Tony D Van Nuys Y Y Y Y Y
c30 Sherman Brad D Woodland Hills Y Y Y Y Y 1,2,3
c31 Miller Gary R San Bernardino A A A A N
c32 Napolitano Grace D Covina Y Y N Y Y
c33 Waxman Henry D Beverly Hills A Y N Y Y 9
c34 Becerra Xavier D Los Angeles Y Y N Y Y
c35 Negrete - McLeod Gloria D Ontario Y Y Y Y Y
c36 Ruiz Raul D Palm Springs Y Y N N Y
c37 Bass Karen D Culver City N Y A Y A 8
c38 Sanchez Linda D Norwalk Y N N Y Y
c39 Royce Ed R Brea N Y Y N N
c40 Roybal-Allard Lucille D Bell Gardens Y Y N Y Y
c41 Takano Mark D Riverside Y Y N Y Y
c42 Calvert Ken R Murrieta N N N N N
c43 Waters Maxine D Inglewood A Y A A Y
c44 Hahn Janice D Compton Y Y Y Y Y 1
c45 Campbell John R Irvine A A A Y N
c46 Sanchez Loretta D Anaheim Y Y N Y Y
c47 Lowenthal Alan D Long Beach Y Y Y Y Y 2,4,7,8,9
c48 Rohrabacher Dana R Huntg'tn Beach Y Y Y Y Y 1,2,3,5,7,9
c49 Issa Darrell R Vista N N N N N Advocated DOJ crackdown on state MMJ laws
c50 Hunter Duncan R San Marcos Y Y Y Y Y 1
c51 Vargas Juan D Chula Vista Y Y N Y Y
c52 Peters Scott D La Jolla Y Y N Y Y
c53 Davis Susan D San Diego Y Y N Y Y


Congressional  Gold Star Honor Roll
Sponsors of Cannabis Reform Bills

District - Member
13 - Barbara Lee (D-Oakland)
20 - Sam Farr (D-Monterey)
48 - Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach)

Silver Star Honor Roll
Cannabis Reform Co-Sponsors

District - Member
02 - Jared Huffman (D-N. Coast)
04 - Tom McClintock (R-Granite Bay)
11 - George Miller* (D-Concord)
15 - Eric Swalwell (D-Fremont/Hayward/Livermore)
17 - Mike Honda (D-Sunnyvale)
19 - Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose)
30 - Brad Sherman (D-Woodland Hills/LA)
33 - Henry Waxman* (D-Beverly Hills)
44 - Janice Hahn (D-Compton)
47 - Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach)
50 - Duncan Hunter (R-San Marcos/S.D.)

* = Retiring, not running for re-election

Hall of Shame
Opposed All Reform Bills

District - Member
01 - Doug LaMalfa (R-Redding)
08 - Paul Cook (R-Barstow)
10 - Jeff Denham (R-Modesto)
22 - Devin Nunes (R-Visalia)
23 - Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield)
25 - Howard "Buck" McKeon* (R-Palmdale)
42 - Ken Calvert (R-Murrieta)
49 - Darrell Issa (R-Vista)

* = Retiring, not running for re-election