<p>Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Bill Piper 202-669-6430</p>
Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) will offer an amendment to a federal spending bill that would prohibit the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from undermining state marijuana laws. The House approved a similar bipartisan measure on May 29th. An amendment prohibiting the DEA from interfering with state hemp production for research purposes also passed the U.S. House. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a similar hemp amendment in committee June 5th that was offered by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
“The House just made history last month by voting to stop the DEA from interfering with state marijuana laws,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Now every U.S. Senator has the opportunity to provide relief for the sick and dying – and to be on the right side of history, not to mention public opinion.”
The House medical marijuana amendment was offered by six Republicans and six Democrats: Reps. Rohrabacher (R-CA), Farr (D-CA), Young (R-AK), Blumenauer (D-OR), McClintock (R-CA), Cohen (D-TN), Broun (R-GA), Polis (D-CO), Stockman (R-TX), Lee (D-CA), Amash (R-MI) and Titus (D-NV). 170 Democrats and 49 Republicans voted for the amendment.
A recent Pew Research Center survey found that nearly three-in-four Americans (72%) believe that efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth, including 78% of independents, 71% of Democrats and 67% of Republicans. There is strong support for state medical marijuana programs, with 80% of Democrats, 76% of Independents, and 61% of Republicans supporting the sale and use of medical marijuana in their state.
Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have laws that legalize and regulate marijuana for medicinal purposes: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Ten states have laws on the books or about to be signed into law by their governors regulating CBD oils, a non-psychotropic component of medical marijuana that some parents are utilizing to treat their children’s seizures: Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin.
Today’s news from the U.S. Senate comes at a time when medical marijuana is also the dominant storyline in the final days of New York’s annual legislative session. Governor Andrew Cuomo and State Senate leaders have come under intense scrutiny for blocking the state’s comprehensive medical marijuana legislation, despite overwhelming bipartisan support for it.
“Letting states set their own medical marijuana policy without federal interference is not just the right thing to do – it’s also very popular with voters in both parties,” said Piper. “No American should have to live in fear of arrest and prosecution for following their doctor’s advice. We’re going to make sure voters know which Senators vote to protect their states and which do not.