Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Bill Piper 202-669-6430</p>
The U.S. House is expected to vote soon – possibly today – on a bipartisan amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill that would prohibit the Department of Justice from undermining state medical marijuana laws. The amendment, co-sponsored by Rep. Rohrabacher (R-CA), Rep. Hinchey (D-NY), Rep. McClintock (R-CA) and Rep. Farr (D-CA), is a rebuke of President Obama’s aggressive assault on medical marijuana patients and providers.
“Both Democrats and Republicans are telling the Obama administration: enough is enough, stop wasting taxpayer money to undermine state medical marijuana laws,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs of the Drug Policy Alliance. “President Obama needs to realize his assault on patient access is not just immoral – but a serious political miscalculation. For more than a decade, polling has consistently shown that 70 to 80 percent of Americans support medical marijuana.”
On the presidential campaign trail in 2008, then-Senator Obama said his administration would not waste resources undermining state medical marijuana laws, especially if people were following their state’s law. Shortly after Obama was elected president, the Department of Justice issued a memorandum to U.S. Attorneys urging them not to waste taxpayer dollars and law enforcement resources arresting and prosecuting people following their state’s medical marijuana law. In the last year, however, the administration has reversed course and launched an attack on state medical marijuana laws that is far more aggressive than the Bush Administration's medical marijuana policy.
The DEA is raiding many licensed and regulated medical marijuana providers that are legal under state law. The ATF is discriminating against medical marijuana patients by prohibiting them from owning firearms. The IRS is rejecting standard tax deductions from legitimate medical marijuana businesses operating in full compliance with state law. And federal threats have intimidated banks and landlords into refusing to do business with the medical marijuana industry. Even free speech is under attack – at least one federal prosecutor is threatening to target newspapers that accept medical marijuana advertising.
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use. Additionally, the Connecticut and New Hampshire legislatures recently passed medical marijuana bills that are awaiting their governor’s signature.
“History is calling on President Obama to protect terminally ill patients from suffering, and he is dangerously close to falling on the wrong side,” said Piper. “He will continue to pay a political price as long as his administration continues to waste taxpayer money undermining state law.”