In a last minute addition to the schedule, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) was welcomed to crash the podium to talk to NORML leaders prior to their lobby day. On Tuesday, the California Congressman assured cannabis activists they are not alone in their fight to legalize as he admitted to using a marijuana product for medical use.
The longtime cannabis supporter’s announcement of personal use of a THC infused product is a big deal. It’s an admission no other sitting congressperson has ever said on the record.
At a Hempfest in San Bernardino is where Rep. Rohrabacher said he found a THC infused wax candle, something to help him manage the pain from the arthritis in his shoulder. His injury stems from his time surfing, he explained. “I tried it about two weeks ago, and it’s the first time… in a year-and-a-half that I’ve had a decent night’s sleep, because the arthritis pain was gone,” he admitted.
Giddy with excitement, the room erupted with applause. “Now don’t tell anybody I broke the law,” Rohrabacher joked, “The bottom line is that… there’s definitely cannabis in there, and it makes sure that I can sleep now.”
Following Rohrabacher’s announcement, I asked the Executive Director of NORML, Allen St. Pierre, what it means for the movement.”[It] speaks to the fact that he is a fellow traveler of the road…he’s a fellow cannabis consumer, and like most of us, he’s agreed that the laws are as bad as they are.”
Rep. Rohrabacher also assured everyone that “Republicans are voting with us on this issue,” explaining that the founding fathers didn’t want a federal police force, but instead, ones at the state and local levels. He’s so appalled at the amount of power held by federal agencies, like the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) “who can arrest people and break into buildings,” that he’s introduced legislation to end funding to their raids on medical marijuana facilities.
“To his credit, he’s been consistent since the 1980’s to legalize marijuana,” St. Pierre said about Rep. Rohrabacher, “He’s been one of the genuine libertarians in Congress.”
“My amendment has passed the senate and I don’t see it being cut off in the House side for medical marijuana,” Rohrabacher said of his legislation aimed at ending federal interference with state laws allowing medical marijuana. “We will have another showdown on the recreational use of cannabis,” added the lawmaker. Give it two or three more years, “if we keep going…at least the cannabis part of this drug war will be over.”
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), Congresswoman Suzan Delbene (D-WA), and Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA) also gave remarks, lending support to a grassroots organization that wasn’t always taken so seriously. “For the first time, views on cannabis turn from critical to embracing and forward looking,” said St. Pierre. Earlier that morning, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) was awarded NORML’s lifetime achievement award for his contributions to marijuana reform.
Thank you @NORML for Lifetime Achievement Award! Pleasure to continue working with you all these years. pic.twitter.com/wu6m0P8y8I
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) May 25, 2016
The final question of the day was for Rep. Rohrabacher. He was asked whether he would consider a presidential run. “That wave is a little too big for me,” he said with a chuckle.