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Victory: Congress ends war on medical marijuana

  1. Docta
    In a landmark moment for cannabis law reform, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure late Thursday night to de-fund the federal war on medical marijuana. If passed by the Senate and signed by President Obama, the provision would bring a halt to the three-year-long medi-pot crackdown in California and other states.

    The Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment to the $1.1 trillion cromnibus spending bill blocks the use of Department of Justice funds to “prevent [medical marijuana states] from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
    The vast majority of Americans (78 percent) support states’ right to allow access to medical cannabis.

    The crominbus is expected to pass the Senate and be signed by the President. The spending bill also contains a provision aimed at Washington DC legalization. The rider inserted by Republican Maryland Rep. Harris would prevent federal funds from being used to “enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) or any tetrahydrocannabinols derivative.”

    District activists say they will litigate the Harris rider.
    Marijuana law reform advocates cheered the return of the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment earlier this week, calling it a “stunning victory.”
    “For the first time, Congress is letting states set their own medical marijuana and hemp policies, a huge step forward for sensible drug policy,” said Bill Piper, director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s office of national affairs. “States will continue to reform their marijuana laws and Congress will be forced to accommodate them. It’s not a question of if, but when, federal marijuana prohibition will be repealed.”

    “This is a great day for patients and for public safety,” stated Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, in a release. “Congress has finally listened to the vast majority of Americans who believe the federal government has no right to interfere in the personal decision to use medical marijuana made by a patient in consultation with his or her doctor. Law enforcement never should have been a part of that decision and if this amendment passes, they no longer will.”

    The medical marijuana provision first passed the House in May, as a bipartisan amendment sponsored by Dana Rohrabacher (R, CA). Federal funds have been used to shut down scores of licensed, regulated dispensaries across the country, as well as prosecute and imprison providers. The federal government under the Obama Administration has spent about $300 million on enforcement in medical marijuana states, Americans for Safe Access reports.

    “This is great news for medical marijuana patients all across the country,” stated Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), one of the co-authors of the House measure, in a press release. “This amendment protects patients while the federal government catches up with the views of the American people. Patients will have access to the care legal in their state without fear of federal prosecution. And our federal dollars will be spent more wisely on fighting actual crimes and not wasted going after patients.”

    “We applaud this Congress for doing the right thing by protecting the rights of patients, and ending a years-long attack on the medical marijuana community,” stated Mike Liszewski, Government Affairs Director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the leading medical marijuana advocacy organization that has been championing the measure for years. “By approving this measure, Congress is siding with the vast majority of Americans who are calling for a change in how we enforce our federal marijuana laws.”

    Posted on December 12, 2014 by David Downs



  1. SmokeTwibz
    A Decade of Hard Work Turns into Historic Marijuana Victory in Congress

    Over the weekend Congress passed the “cromnibus,” an end of year federal spending bill designed to fund most of the government through 2015. The bill contains the bipartisan Rohrabacher-Farr medical marijuana amendment prohibiting the Justice Department from spending any money to undermine state medical marijuana laws.

    This is a huge victory – one that has taken 13 years to win. For the first time, Congress is cutting off funding to federal medical marijuana raids and saying no one should be arrested for complying with their state's medical marijuana law.

    The amendment was first offered by Congressman Maurice Hinchey in 2003. At the time it received 152 yes votes – far short of the 218 votes needed to win, but more than anyone expected. It was offered on the floor many more times over the years.

    A lot of organizations spent more than a decade building support for the amendment – Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, Americans for Safe Access, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, NORML, LEAP and others.

    It was hard work.

    I remember when Steve Fox (then at MPP) and I took Montel Williams, a well-known talk show host and medical marijuana patient, in to ask a member of Congress to support medical marijuana. The representative wouldn’t even look at Steve or me - just talked to Montel, repeatedly telling him he had been misled on medical marijuana and that marijuana reform advocates are liars.

    Now that congressperson is one of our closest allies, not just on medical marijuana but legalization too. A lot of people who basically slammed their doors in our faces a decade ago are now our allies.

    Last May, 219 members of the U.S. House voted for the medical marijuana amendment, which was sponsored this year by Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Democratic Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA), and ten other members of Congress. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced a similar amendment in the Senate but a vote by the Senate on the amendment was never held.

    The House amendment made it into the final appropriations bill, marking the first time Congress has ever cut off funding to marijuana enforcement.

    Change almost never happens overnight. And it rarely happens by accident.

    Year after year people wrote or called their members of Congress in support of medical marijuana. I know some people had doubts as to whether contacting their elected officials would matter. Now that the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment has passed it is clear that contacting members of Congress matters.

    Many opponents became supporters because of pressure from their constituents.

    There is still a lot more work ahead. This spending amendment is a good first step, but ultimately federal law needs to change to allow states to set their own marijuana policy without federal interference.

    I like to say that members of Congress are good at jumping in front of parades, but first you have to build that parade.

    Thanks to supporters like you, we’ve built a parade. Members of Congress are beginning to do the right thing; we need to hold them accountable and make sure they push reform further.

    December 15, 2014
    Bill Piper | Drug Policy Alliance
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