The amendment that would have prevented the Federal government from harrassing medical marijuana patients in states where it’s legal has failed.
It’s what we’ve been calling the Hinchey/Rohrabacher amendement, but showed up in the House proceedings as the Farr Amendment (Final name was the Farr/Rohrabacher/Hinchey/Paul amendment due to additional sponsors).
In favor of the amendment: 19 Republicans, 128 Democrats, 1 Independent
Opposed: 202 Republicans, 66 Democrats
See how your representative voted. If they voted against the amendment, send them a letter saying how disappointed you are, and then vote them out of office.
It looks like we can’t count on the House of Representatives to do what’s right. We may be dependent on the Supreme Court.
I may have more on the debate later.
Update: Here’s the beginning of the debate. Well said by Representative Farr:
Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, the purpose of this amendment is very
straightforward. In simple terms, the Farr-Rohrabacher-Hinchey-Paul
amendment prohibits the use of funds in the bill from preventing States
that have medical marijuana laws from implementing them.
As a result, the States have medical marijuana laws on the books they
can implement, regulate and enforce them, just like now. States that do
not have medical marijuana laws on the books remain subject to the
overarching Federal law.
This amendment does not stop law enforcement officials from
prosecuting illegal use of marijuana. This amendment does not encourage
the use of marijuana. This amendment does not encourage the use of
drugs in children. This amendment does not legalize any drugs. This
amendment does not change the classification of marijuana. This
amendment is recognized as States’ rights to oversee the medical scope
of practice of doctors in their States, to prescribe drugs as doctors
see as necessary for medical conditions.
Today’s Los Angeles Times points out that the Justice Department’s
medical marijuana war seems increasingly out of step with the whole
country. Last fall, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling
barring Federal officials from prosecuting doctors for their
Just 2 weeks ago, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian
Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and other mainstream
religious groups supported doctors’ rights to prescribe pot as a when-
all-else-fails treatment for the seriously ill. The best way to thwart
casual use of this drug is to let doctors prescribe it in closely
circumscribed and regulated ways such as the States do.
Now, there are nine States that have passed these laws. The voters
are speaking, and they are doing it more in every State. Just recently
Vermont. Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon,
Vermont, and Washington have enacted State medical marijuana laws.
Because of these State laws, thousands of patients are able to
alleviate their pain and suffering without fear of arrest by State or
The threat of arrest by Federal agents, however, still exists. In the
past, the Federal Government has impeded research on medical use of
marijuana, even though thousands of patients have testified, explained,
and acknowledged that it helps relieve some of the debilitating
symptoms, such as nausea, pain, loss of appetite associated with
Despite Federal admonitions against marijuana, the American people
support medical marijuana and pretty overwhelmingly. Most national
polls show the support around 70 percent.
This amendment is not necessarily about the actual medical purpose of
marijuana, though I know scores of doctors have attested to marijuana’s
medical benefits. In States where medical marijuana is legal, thousands
of licensed physicians have recommended marijuana to their patients.
This amendment is not about legalizing drugs, though some will argue
that it should be.
No. What this amendment is about is States rights. In so many areas
we trust States rights. And I think of us here in the United States
Congress. We allowed States to draw our district boundary lines.
We allow States to set the fee we have to pay to run for office. We
allow the States to create the primary procedures for getting elected
to Congress. We allow the States to fashion Medicaid packages. We allow
States to license doctors to practice. We trust the States to do what
is best for their residents of that State. When it comes to health care
policy or palliative care, the care of alleviating pain, nine States of
the United States have determined that it is appropriate public policy
to allow the use of marijuana as a prescribed treatment.
If Congress respects States rights in so many other areas, why does
it not respect it with regard to medical marijuana?
Mr. Chairman, this amendment would prevent the Federal Government
from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. It would end the
DEA raids on medical marijuana patients and caregivers who are acting
in accordance with state law. It would not–let me repeat–it would not
prevent the DEA from arresting individuals who are involved in
marijuana-related activities unconnected to medical use.
Here is the simple question posed by this amendment: Should the
Federal Government arrest individuals who are trying to alleviate their
own suffering or the suffering of others in compliance with state law?