Bipartisan amendment seeks to halt Obama’s medical marijuana raids

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, May 9, 2012 16:15 EDT
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A bud of finely cultivated marijuana. Photo: Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.
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A forthcoming amendment to H.R. 5326, a key appropriations bill currently being debated in Congress, will give the House of Representatives an opportunity to rebuke the Obama administration’s rapid fire raids on voter-approved medical marijuana facilities in the states that allow doctors to recommend the drug.

Three California Republicans and one New York Democrat, Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Sam Farr (D-CA) and Tom McClintock (R-CA), plan to introduce the amendment this evening, according to action alerts circulated Wednesday by the nation’s largest drug reform advocacy groups.

The amendment would, according to Americans for Safe Access (ASA), “prohibit any funds made available to the Department of Justice from being used to prevent the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, or the District of Columbia, from implementing programs authorized by those laws.”

By virtue of that, all medical marijuana raids would cease. Marijuana advocates have told Raw Story that the Obama administration has staged “more than 200″ raids in the last three years — making his presidency far “worse than Bush” for drug reform advocates.

“The Rohrabacher-Hinchey-Farr-McClintock Medical Marijuana Amendment seeks to put scarce federal law enforcement resources to better use,” ASA explained in an advisory. “The amendment specifically prohibits the Department of Justice from using appropriated funds to interfere with the implementation of medical cannabis laws in states that have approved such use.”

“Given the aggressive and escalating actions of Obama’s Justice Department, the Rohrabacher-Hinchey-Farr-McClintock Medical Marijuana Amendment is necessary to allow state and local officials to duly implement laws and regulations and avoid further harm to the hundreds of thousands of patients and their state-compliant providers,” ASA added.

The amendment will likely be opposed by the Obama administration, which has historically fought every measure that’s sought to curb federal authority over the states. Whether it even has a shot at passing the House also remains unclear, as many Republicans still refuse to acknowledge marijuana’s usefulness to the medical community.

Congressional Democrats, however, have increasingly favored measures like this. Even Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) weighed in on the matter recently, rebuking President Barack Obama’s continued raids on medical marijuana facilities in a strongly worded statement citing numerous medical organizations that have publicly recognized the drug’s value to certain patients.

“I am pleased to join organizations that support legal access to medicinal marijuana, including the American Nurses Association, the Lymphoma Foundation of America, and the AIDS Action Council,” she wrote. “Medicinal marijuana alleviates some of the most debilitating symptoms of AIDS, including pain, wasting, and nausea. The opportunity to ease the suffering of people who are seriously ill or enduring difficult and painful therapies is an opportunity we must not ignore.”

Spokespeople for Reps. Rohrabacher and Hinchey did not respond to requests for comment.

Photo: Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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