Puff, Puff, Access


Supporters of medical marijuana research have set up a new group to lobby Congress: Americans for Safe Access.

ASA's two lobbyists and seven members, dubbed "citizen experts," met Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), who will offer his traditional medical-marijuana amendment to the Justice Department appropriations bill when it hits the floor next week, and 20 more House members, most from the California delegation. California permits cannabis use for medical reasons, but the Supreme Court ruled last year in Gonzales v. Raich that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) could legally raid the supply of state-sanctioned users.

"Eventually we do see legislation being put forth" to end the federal ban on marijuana research, said ASA's government-affairs director, Caren Woodson, "but the first thing we need to happen is that patients and doctors in states with laws stop being harassed by DEA agents." Hinchey's amendment, co-sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), would bar Justice from spending federal money on raiding stashes in California and nine other states with legalization laws.

This is nice, but action on the federal level isn't going to happen, no matter which party is in charge. The best hope medical marijuana advocates have is to continue getting decriminalization passed in states and localities, and wait until a less draconian Justice Department takes command. Yeah, easier said than done, but it's more likely than any act of Congress 1)happening or 2)giving Alberto Gonzales a moment's pause.