California Rep. Sam Farr (D), along with familiar anti-drug war friends Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) have teamed up to push the Truth in Trials Act (H.R. 6134) through the House of Representatives. The Act, a version of which was previously attempted in 2003, would protect medical marijuana patients by counteracting Gonzales vs. Raich (2005) in allowing state legality of the drug to be offered as evidence.
This might save some folks from federal prosecution if they live in a state where the drug is legal. It would also be generally contrary to the Obama administration's habit of cracking down on clinics in California, Colorado, Montana, and Michigan, and would be a nice step in drug policy humanitarianism and sanity.
State-licensed medical marijuana users would be given the right to provide an "affirmative defense" in the case of a federal prosecution. This effectively allows them to prove that their actions, while illegal at the federal level, were in fact protected under state law.
"Any person facing prosecution or a proceeding for any marijuana-related offense under any federal law shall have the right to introduce evidence demonstrating that the marijuana-related activities for which the person stands accused were performed in compliance with state law regarding the medical use of marijuana, or that the property which is subject to a proceeding was possessed in compliance with state law regarding the medical use of marijuana," the bill reads.
The legislation also lays out specific language stating that cannabis plants grown legally under state law may not be seized. Under the legislation, marijuana and other property confiscated in the process of a prosecution must also be maintained—not destroyed—and returned to the defendant if they are able to prove it was for a use accepted by the state.
Much like prior legislative attecmpts that saw Frank and Paul team up (including a June 2011 effort to try and federally legalize marijuana and let states decide pot policy for themselves), this doesn't seem likely to pass. Nor did it in 2009, when Frank and Paul also tried. But it's still a hell of an effort, and a reminder that Paul is going to be missed all too soon. And so is this most peculiar sight of both sides of the aisle working together to make the state less powerful.
Reason on drug policy.