Dana Rohrabacher, a sitting Republican Congressman from California, became the first active U.S. lawmaker in decades to admit to using medical marijuana.
Congressman Rohrabacher made his admission while addressing cannabis activists on Capitol Hill during the NORML Conference D.C. 2016 Lobby Day. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), founded in 1970, holds Lobby Days in D.C. and the state capitals to raise awareness among lawmakers for issues surrounding cannabis prohibition.
Rohrabacher has long been an advocate for medical marijuana and cannabis law reform, authoring or sponsoring a number of measures to further the legalization of cannabis, including protecting medical marijuana patients from federal prosecution.
One of five Congress members to speak – Sam Farr (CA), Earl Blumenauer (OR), Jared Polis (CO), and Suzan Delbene (WA) were the others – Congressman Rohrabacher was the only Republican to address the NORML crowd.
Sam Farr spoke first to the group because he needed to go debate on the floor an amendment to the appropriations bill to block the DEA from using federal funding to interfere with medical marijuana states. It is a stipulation that lawmakers must fight to get in the appropriations bill every year.
Next to speak was Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, a decades long champion for marijuana reform, who has recently pledged to visit every state in the U.S. with a ballot initiative for legalized marijuana and personally campaign for those measures. At the event, Blumenauer was given the NORML Lifetime Achievement Award.
Jared Polis and Suzan Delbene followed with discussions focusing on the results of legalization in their own states and efforts they’ve made to reform cannabis laws on a national level.
Rohrabacher ended the speakers by making his startling admission. He began by revealing that doctors he has spoken with have confirmed to him the effectiveness of marijuana for medical purposes.
Rohrabacher suffers from arthritis caused by 30 years of surfing that had become so bad that the pain disrupted his sleep. The Congressman was in pain for a year and a half before discovering marijuana-based topicals at a cannabis event in San Bernardino, California. After talking to a vendor at the event, he tried rubbing the medical marijuana topical into his shoulder.
“And you know what? 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,” Rohrabacher told the audience.
“Now don’t tell anybody I broke the law,” he added, “They’ll bust down my door and, you know, and take whatever’s inside and use it for evidence against me. The bottom line is that… there’s definitely cannabis in there, and it makes sure that I can sleep now.”
More importantly than revealing his use of medical marijuana, Rohrabacher spoke about how we are using federal tax dollars to keep people from gaining relief, something he called “insane”. Rohrabacher even referenced his mother, who passed away recently, saying she could have found relief in medical marijuana.
It was a common theme among all five speakers: ending patient suffering and regulating cannabis on a federal level. Congressman Rohrabacher ended his address, the longest of the five, by acknowledging America’s veterans and the need to make medical marijuana available to those who fought to protect our freedoms. Rohrabacher mentioned that veterans have labored for the right to access medical marijuana, often forwarding the cause for patients everywhere along the way.
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