Yesterday, 163 members of the House of Representatives voted to defund federal raids on medical marijuana where the plant is legal under state law. The amendment was sponsored by three California congressmen—Dana Rohrabacher (R), Tom McClintock (R), Sam Farr (D)—and New York's Maurice Hinchey (D), and was tacked on to Fiscal Year 2013 Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations bill. The amendment, which failed yesterday 163-262, reads as follows:
None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.
Seventy-three percent of Democrats supported the amendment, but only 29 House Republicans.
"It is time for the federal government to stop targeting the legal vendors that are providing safe access to this treatment, and instead focus limited resources on those who sell illicit drugs," Rep. Farr told the Huffington Post yesterday. "The amendment I will offer with my colleagues will work to assure funds under the Department of Justice do not target the safe access to treatment patients need.”
Some reactions from the drug reform lobby, starting with MPP's Steve Fox:
“It is encouraging to see so many members sending a clear message to the Obama administration,” said Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project. “These 163 members are tired of seeing federal resources dedicated to undermining state medical marijuana laws. They understand, especially members from medical marijuana states, that when the Obama administration forces the closure of medical marijuana dispensaries, they are driving patients back to the streets to acquire their medicine. States are doing the right thing by ensuring that patients have safe access to medical marijuana. It is only a matter of time before every member of Congress accepts this truth.”
Drug Policy Alliance's Bill Piper:
“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.”
This isn't going away. Last week, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) released a letter condemning Obama's raids. The week before that, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) called the raids "bad policy and bad politics."