California Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (R) and Sam Farr (D), and state Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D) and state Sen. Mark Leno (D) addressed pro-marijuana activists on Tuesday, urging them to help reform the nation's drug laws by lobbying their lawmakers.
As part of the California Unity Conference & Citizen Lobby Day, more than 350 people visited every legislative office in California on Monday to express their support for a statewide regulatory system for the production and distribution of medical marijuana. The conference was organized by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, California NORML, the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, and the Emerald Growers Association.
"We know these are challenging times," Leno told the activists. "The assault by the federal government is shameful and indefensible."
Following the election of President Barack Obama, the Department of Justice had suggested that it would not target state-authorized medical marijuana providers. The agency later clarified that it would still treat medical marijuana providers as criminal enterprises, although it believed prosecuting medical marijuana patients was not a good use of resources.
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.
Ammiano said the Department of Justice had "gone rogue" and accused U.S. attorneys of "participating in this spin cycle of Reefer Madness from the 1930s."
"The people who are active in the political system are the ones who are going to make the laws and set the policy," Rohrabacher added.
"We haven't been as active as we should have been but today there are many people who understand that making medical marijuana illegal is insane -- and it is even more insane to have the federal government spend its limited resources at a time when we have to borrow one third of our budget from overseas."
Rohrabacher and other members of Congress introduced legislation that would have halted raids on voter-approved medical marijuana facilities in the states that allow doctors to recommend the drug. But the legislation was rejected by a 163-262 vote earlier this month.
"I just want you to know, that as a Republican, I know you are going to have a lot of problems with the Republicans," Rohrabacher told the activists. "Well, you just tell them Dana Rohrabacher, who was Ronald Reagan's special assistant and speech-writer, is the one who is leading the charge to make sure we aren't wasting law enforcement dollars."
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube by Americans for Safe Access on May 22, below: