Congress Votes on Medical Marijuana: Rejects Amendment Prohibiting Federal Government from Undermining State Medical Marijuana Laws

Press Release June 27, 2006
Media Contact

Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384 or Bill Piper at (202) 669-6430

The U.S. House of Representatives rejected an amendment today that would have prohibited the federal government from undermining state efforts to allow patients to use marijuana for medical reasons. Dozens of states have passed favorable medical marijuana legislation and eleven of them have made it legal for patients to use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. The use of marijuana for any reason, however, remains a federal crime and the U.S. Justice Department has been accused of spending too much time and money arresting medical marijuana patients.

The amendment received 163 votes, two more votes than a similar amendment received last year. 144 Democrats and 18 Republicans voted for the amendment, which was offered by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).

Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, had this to say:

“The good news is that the amendment picked up a few more votes than last year. But, it is outrageous that so many members of Congress voted to undermine the will of the voters and allow medical marijuana patients and their loved ones to be harassed, intimidated, and possibly incarcerated for trying to relieve their pain. What is really striking is that almost every Republican voted against States’ Rights and limited government. They’re clearly out of touch of with their base, because polls show that Republican voters overwhelmingly support medical marijuana. In fact, Republican legislators at the state-level have been great on this issue. I suspect that most Republicans in Congress are being intimidated by the Bush White House into voting against their conscience.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

Sign up for updates from DPA.