Congressman targets federal funding for the war on drugs
Colorado Congressman Jared Polis has offered two amendments to the House continuing resolution that would eliminate much of the federal funding for the war on drugs in the United States.
The House is currently debating HR 1, the Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011. The bill is needed to fund the government for the rest of the current fiscal year.
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) has offered a number of amendments to the legislation. One of his amendments, No. 501, would eliminate funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, commonly known as the drug czar. Another amendment, No. 427, would prohibit funds being made available for the investigation or criminal prosecution of any person for the possession, manufacture or distribution of marijuana.
The Marijuana Policy Project is urging its members to contact their representatives about the amendments.
“The Drug Czar’s office is simply not necessary,” a pre-written letter by the group said. “Levels of drug use do not change because we have a person of power in Washington going around the country saying, ‘Drugs are bad.’ Moreover, a case can be made that the Drug Czar’s office has done a disservice to our youth by emphasizing the harms associated with marijuana at the expense of educating them about the relative harms of all drugs.”
Last week, Rep. Polis said that support for legalizing marijuana at the federal level was steadily increasing in Congress.
“I find that a lot of members of Congress privately agree that we need to change our drug policy, they’re just still too timid or scared to come public with it,” he said.
Although the two amendments may galvanize supporters of marijuana legalization, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned Wednesday that the continuing resolution has become a vehicle for amendments that threaten civil liberties.
“This continuing resolution is a breathtaking assault on civil liberties,” Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office Laura W. Murphy said. “In one fell swoop, the House bill is attempting to chip away at due process rights and eliminate access to crucial health care for many Americans. While determining federal funding concerns, it is unacceptable that the civil liberties of Americans be considered dispensable. We urge the Senate to continue its resistance to this disastrous bill.”
As of Tuesday night, members of the House had offered 583 amendments to the bill.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) is expected to try and attach his bill, the “Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act,” to the continuing resolution.
The measure would eliminate all $327 million in funding for Title X, a family planning program that began 40 years ago under President Richard Nixon. And while Planned Parenthood receives millions of dollars from the program, Title X funds cannot be used for abortion services.
“If Planned Parenthood wants to be involved in providing counseling services and HIV testing, they ought not be in the business of providing abortions,” Rep. Pence told Politico Tuesday. “As long as they aspire to do that, I’ll be after them.”
Rep. Aaron Shock (R-IL) has offered an amendment to the continuing resolution that would ban Guantanamo detainees from being transferred to the United States for any reason.
The ACLU said the continuing resolution could be used to pass other problematic national security-related amendments and would be monitoring the debate closely.
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