Congress Refuses To Halt Federal Raids On Medi-Pot Patients

Washington, DC: Patients and their caregivers who use or possess medicinal cannabis in compliance with state law will continue to be subject to federal arrest and prosecution, after the House of Representatives yesterday voted down a proposed amendment that sought to bar Justice Department officials from interfering with the implementation of state medi-pot laws. The House voted 268 to 148 against the bi-partisan measure, sponsored by Reps. Sam Farr (D-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), and Ron Paul (R-TX).

The House rejected a similar amendment last year by a vote of 273 to 152. Of those who voted in support of this year’s proposal, 19 were Republicans and 128 were Democrats. The House’s only Independent Congressman, Vermont Representative Bernard Sanders, also voted in favor of the amendment.

The measure’s proponents noted that the upcoming November election, as well as an intense lobbying campaign against the bill by the Department of Justice, the Fraternal Order of Police, as well as several anti-drug groups, likely played a roll in backers’ failure to build upon last year’s vote.

Speaking in favor of the amendment on the House floor were Reps. Farr, Paul, Rohrabacher, and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), who stated that she had previously furnished her mother with medicinal cannabis.

“I rise in support of this amendment because my mother had glaucoma and we bought her marijuana because it was a relief, and that was before this bill (Proposition 215) was passed in the state of California,” Woolsey said.

“When it comes to health care policy or palliative care, the care of alleviating pain, nine states of the United States have determined that it is appropriate public policy to allow the use of marijuana as a prescribed treatment,” Farr said. “If Congress respects states’ rights in so many other areas, why does it not respect it with regard to medical marijuana?”

Representatives Michael Burgess (R-TX), Max Burns (D-GA), Doug Ose (R-CA), Mark Souder (R-IN), and Frank Wolf (R-VA) spoke out against the amendment, alleging that medicinal cannabis is a “facade,” and is without “any medical qualities whatsoever.”

For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500. A breakdown of the House vote is available online at:
http://clerk.house.gov/cgi-bin/vote.asp?year=2004&rollnumber=334