Bill Piper at (202) 669-6430 or Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384
During a presidential campaign stop in New Hampshire last Friday, Sen. Hilary Rodham Clinton pledged to end federal raids on medical marijuana patients. The pledge came in response to a question posed by Len Epstein, a volunteer for Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana (GSMM).
After telling Clinton, “Twelve states allow medical marijuana, but the Bush administration continues to raid patients,” she responded, “Yes, I know. It’s terrible.” Epstein then asked, “Would you stop the federal raids?” Clinton responded, “Yes, I will.” Her remarks echo remarks she made in May in which she suggested the federal government was being “excessive” in its dealing with medical marijuana patients.
Twelve states, (Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington) have adopted effective medical marijuana laws since 1996 – most of them by a vote of the people. Dozens of other states have adopted largely symbolic medical marijuana laws. The Drug Enforcement Administration, however, continues to arrest medical marijuana patients and their caregivers in those states.
“Sen. Clinton has shown real leadership by pledging to stop federal medical marijuana raids,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “I hope her colleagues in the House follow her lead and vote to prohibit the Justice Department from arresting medical marijuana patients and their caregivers in those states where marijuana is legal for medical use.”
Next week, the House of Representatives will vote on an amendment that would prohibit the Justice Department from undermining state medical marijuana laws. Last year, 163 representatives (75 percent of Democrats; 18 percent of Republicans) voted for a similar amendment.
In addition to Clinton’s remarks, every other Democratic presidential candidate has vowed to end federal medical marijuana raids – except for Sen. Barak Obama who indicated in June that the raids shouldn’t be a priority for the Justice Department, but stopped short of pledging to end the raids completely if elected president. Earlier this year Gov. Bill Richardson became the first U.S. presidential candidate in history to sign legislation legalizing marijuana for medical use. On the Republican side, only Rep. Ron Paul, Rep. Tom Tancredo, and former Gov. Tommy Thompson have indicated they would end the federal medical marijuana raids.