Supporters of medical marijuana scored a small victory in Washington, and as John Hudak explains in a column for The Hill, they should thank an unlikely group in Congress: the Tea Party. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-CA) amendment to the CJS appropriations bill—which tells the DEA to back off on medical marijuana enforcement in states where it is legal—passed the House because of Republican votes.
Forty-nine Republicans crossed the aisle to support the amendment and many of them hail from deeply conservative districts, as evidenced by a slew of empirical measures. Hudak notes, “The average Republican supporting the Rohrabacher Amendment scored a 0.73 [on the DW-NOMINATE scale], making them more conservative than the average House Republican. If it weren’t for deeply conservative, Tea Party Republicans from very red districts, the Rohrabacher Amendment never would have passed.”
So how did a group that is often characterized as opposed to bipartisanship and compromise come to join liberal Democrats on the measure? Hudak explains that medical marijuana creates a unique policy space for liberals and conservatives to unite, albeit on different principles. But as Hudak points out, “a vote—not the reason for a vote—is all that matters for a roll call” and that just might be enough for bipartisanship on at least one issue.