As the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raided and shut down ten medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives considered and rejected an amendment that would have prohibited federal law enforcement agencies from arresting and prosecuting terminally ill patients and their caregivers in states that have legalized marijuana for medical use. The amendment was voted down, 262-165. Offered by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), the amendment received 150 votes from Democrats and 15 votes from Republicans.
“It is outrageous that members of Congress rejected a sensible amendment to protect sick people and their families ,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “We will make sure that voters in their districts know that they voted to send cancer and AIDS patients to federal prison for following their doctor’s recommendation.”
“With soldiers dying in Iraq, new terrorism threats emerging, and the federal defecit so large, both Congress and the Bush Administration need to get their priorities straight,” Piper continued. “America can not afford these raids on medical marijuana patients and their caregivers, not on fiscal terms, not on law enforcement and national security terms, and not on human terms. This ongoing assault on the will of California voters is an utter waste of federal resources, and it’s causing great suffering to sick people and their families. If we don’t stop this federal interference now, the feds could start interfering with the laws of Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island and other medical marijuana states.”
Background and Key Facts:
- Twelve states passed laws allowing terminally ill patients to use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation (Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington).
- More than 70 percent of voters support the right of patients to use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation — including substantial majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents (Gallup, Time/CNN, Pew Research