The first potential federal easing of marijuana prohibition – the House’s passage last Friday of an amendment that would prevent the federal government from prosecuting medical marijuana dispensaries in states where they're legal – could not have happened without a new breed of Republicans willing to let at least some Americans toke without fear of raids and arrest, says the Christian Science Monitor. So-called “respect state marijuana laws” bills have been tried several times since 2003, but have always failed because of GOP opposition.
This time, the leading Republican supporter, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (CA), found enough support to win passage among a broad gallery of conservatives, including tea party champion Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia Steve Stockman of Texas, and California's Tom McClintock. That contingent still looked small since Republicans voted against the amendment by a 3-to-1 margin. Political analysts said the fact that 49 Republicans voted for what was in essence a historic pro-pot amendment nevertheless represents a significant shift inside the GOP, especially given that only 28 Republicans voted for a similar measure last year.