Washington, DC: United States Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), along with eight co-sponsors, introduced legislation - House Bill 6335, the Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act - to amend the federal Controlled Substances Act so as to "exempt real property from civil forfeiture due to medical-marijuana-related conduct that is authorized by State law."
Representative Lee's bill, the first of its kind ever introduced in Congress, is in response to the Justice Department's increased use of the civil asset forfeiture statute to sanction property owners whose tenants are involved in the production or distribution of cannabis in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. Since October, US Attorneys in California alone have sent more than 300 threatening letters to landlords across the state, resulting in the closure of more than 400 dispensaries, according to tabulations compiled by the group Americans for Safe Access.
Speaking in support of the proposal, Rep. Lee explained, "As a long-time supporter of the rights of patients to have safe and legal access to medicine that has been recommended to them by their doctors, this bill will provide clarification to California businesses and security for California patients. The people of California have made it legal for patients to have safe access to medicinal marijuana and, as a result, thousands of small business owners have invested millions of dollars in building their companies, creating jobs, and paying their taxes. We should be protecting and implementing the will of voters, not undermining our democracy by prosecuting small business owners who pay taxes and comply with the laws of their states in providing medicine to patients in need."
The Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act has been assigned before both the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. It is not expected that either Committee will take action on the measure prior to the November election.
Several other marijuana law reform measures - including HR 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, HR 1983, the States' Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, and HR 1831/S 3501, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act - also remain pending before Congress.
Additional information on these and other pending Congressional measures are available from NORML's 'Take Action Center' here: http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/.