Hinchey Watch – Day 2

The House of Representatives is about to continue with consideration of amendments to the Justice Appropriations bill. The Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment (preventing the use of federal funds to harass sick people in medical marijuana states) will most likely be considered today, with 30 minutes of debate. There will also be a number of other amendments related to drug war funding.
I’ll be following the action here throughout the day.

Sidebar: How the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment has done in the past.

2003 Voting:

Aye No
Rep 15 208
Dem 136 65
Ind 1 0
Total 152 273

2004 Voting:

Aye No
Rep 19 202
Dem 128 66
Ind 1 0
Total 148 268

We need a gain of about 60 votes this year.

“bullet” 11:15 am Eastern: Slogging through the amendments. First, a quickie. The chairman offered an amendment (apparently having found some extra dollars somewhere), increasing COPS by $34 million and $34 million more to go after meth. (This was passed on voice vote.) Another amendment was then offered to increase funding to COPS (at the expense of NSF). There must be a lot of lobbying being done by law enforcement groups. Now, from what I understand of the purpose of Community Oriented Policing Programs, it sounds good — more cops on the streets on regular beats, getting to know the community, etc. However, I’m very suspicious of the federal ties/controls on the program and their interest in developing drug war tactics through the COPS program. Anytime the federal government is in a position to control (even partially) local law enforcement, it is bad for the community.
“bullet” 12:30 pm Eastern: Nothing new regarding drug policy. Recent items have mostly been about the U.N. and Cuba.
“bullet” 12:45 pm Eastern: Rumor has it that Hinchey will come up within the next 1/2 hour. [But first, we’re going to talk about not having a global tax. Passed.]


“bullet” 12:56 pm Eastern: Here it is!

[Note: this was blogged on the fly and is intended to give a general approximation. The actual transcript will be available tomorrow.]

Hinchey is giving the intro, detailing how marijuana actually helps sick people and yet the DEA has been targeting them. Unconsionable for us to deny this just because “narrow ideological bias against that drug in Congress.” Quotes Institute of Medicine Report. Quotes Stevens from Supreme Court about the Democratic process “may one day be heard in the halls of Congress”. Lays into opponents. Does not legalize marijuana, etc. Medical organizations…. He’s ripping through a whole bunch of points. Very well done.
Our amendment is about compassion. Taxpayers’ dollars should not be spent on sending patients to jail. It’s about states rights and compassion.
“bullet” Peterson (PA) on the other side: Marijuana is not harmless. There’s Marinol. There hasn’t been enough testing. Marijuana use curtails the development of the brain. Blah, blah, blah. Same old stuff. Encouraging young people to use marijuana. He has friends who grew up with marijuana “was the hot issue” and they became “somewhat dull and have stayed that way their entire life.” (Peterson seems a bit dull to me). Marijuana is not needed in this country. It should not become legal in any way in my view.
“bullet” Sanders (our side): Makes nice dig about not disagreeing with the capacity of Peterson’s friends. Then says that most of Peterson’s points were irrelevant. “Let’s not decide on a political basis that no state is competent to regulate the practice of medicine in that state.” [Remember, that all of this is very quickly typed on the fly so wait for exact quotes from the transcripts]. Let’s leave it to the states and not pretend to be doctors by playing them on C-Span.
“bullet” Steve King (Iowa): Does the whole FDA approval thing. Then says it’s about slipping the camel’s nose under the tent, so that those who want to can eventually legalize marijuana. All sorts of medical organizations have rejected medical marijuana. It’s just a social agenda to legalize. And this society will be more replete with this hallucinogenic drug and will lead to others.
“bullet” Nancy Pelosi – [nice to see the Minority Leader showing up for this.] Says that it’s about compassion. Says nice things about the committee leaders. Says this amendment is timely coming after the Supreme Court decision. Make sure you know that what we are talking about here is states passing their own laws and initiatives. Emphasizes that a doctor’s prescription is needed. They should be able to do so if their states allow it. We’ve lost 20,000 people to AIDS in my district and I’ve seen personally how medical marijuana has helped these people directly with wasting syndrome, etc. And it’s not just AIDS. Begs to differ about lack of support by science. Notes the IOM report (quotes from it). Mentions other medical journals and how medical marijuana inhibit pain, improves quality of life, etc. Many medical associations support with doctors prescription under state law. Lists a number of such organizations. 92% of American’s seniors support this (recent AARP poll) Lists a number of church organizations that support this — impressive list. “We must not make criminals of criminally ill people — slip of the tongue — seriously ill people.” [Nicely done.]
“bullet” Souder [Oh, boy.] this is a pro-marijuana effort … dangerous drug …shysters and quack… carbolic smoke ball promised to cure everything and snake oil [brings out old ads to show these old horrow show items] They made people drunk, just like marijuana makes you high. Brings up the Irma Perez story again. [I swear I’m going to burst if he does this again to this young girl — I’ll blow up about it later] Linked to heart disease, lung cancer, suicide, mental illness.. dangerous… more than 400 chemicals.. It’s used for recreational reasons, not really for medical purposes. Doctors prescribe to everyone. Marijuana coffee houses. People growing tens of acres and hiding behind medical marijuana. Supporters exploit sick people. It’s not proven, not true., etc. Marinol has been approved. Marinol is great, etc., etc. Proponents are perpetuating a fraud saying that home-grown pot, reefer, weed, etc….. [Aaaarrgghhhh…..]
“bullet” Rohrabacher: Says it should be about states. He thinks that the drug may well be harmful, and many other drugs may be harmful, but we empower doctors to make those decisions and we trust them to make those decisions. But simply to override all the powers of the people of the states is unconstiitutional. Our founding fathers wanted these decisions to be done in the states. The only thing we’re deciding here is should we use federal money to override these decisions in the states? Let’s not have a power grab in the federal government.
“bullet” Wolf: Opposed. Interferes with law enforcement. More young people are in treatment for marijuana dependency than for alcohol or any other drugs [same old nonsense from ONDCP] Sends wrong message to children. Confusing and wrong message.
“bullet” Farr (CA): (co-sponsor) It has not been a problem in California. It does not get drugs in the hands of kids. It doesn’t hurt law enforcement. Supreme court didn’t strike down those laws. This is about whether Congress will step in and prevent states from relieving pain. Don’t bust old ladies.
“bullet” Gallegly (CA) [should be recalled by his constituents] Someone who smokes 5 joints per week may be taking in as much cancer-causing chemicals as pack of cigarettes a day.
“bullet” Woolsey (CA) I believe Doctors should be allowed to prescribe marijuana for their patients. My mother suffered from Glaucoma, and marijuana relieved her greatly. She’s gone now, but I’m certain I’m speaking for her today in asking that others be allowed…
“bullet” Blumenauer (OR) Teen use of marijuana since the approval of medical marijuana by the state of California has gone down. Shows charts. It is outrageous that the federal government would intervene where states like mine are taking these steps. [mentions death with dignity in Oregon]
“bullet” Kucinich (OH) – support – Trying to raise marijuan to some sort of boogey-man when we have people suffering and we’re going to deny that to them? Because of some shibboleth about marijuana?
“bullet” DeFazio (OR) Are we for states’ rights or not? I guess not if we disagree with what the states say. It’s not about legalization. This is something that should be made available in a compassionate way…
“bullet” Lofgren (CA) I oppose legalizing marijuana but support this amendment. Gave an example of someone who was relieved by marijuana but had to go out and buy it illegally — why should we force cancer patients to do that? I cannot understand why we would interfere with their ability to get help.
“bullet” Jackson-Lee (TX) support – I ask kindness, respect and love for those who are suffering. Allow this to go forward so we can help the dying and allow the 10th amendment so states can do what they wish.
“bullet” Hinchey: Opponents have shown 19th century arguments for 21st century issues. This Congress says to those 10 states “I’m sorry but you can’t do it.” This Congress should be about relieving pain, not based on 19th century prejudices, biases. Let’s pass this amendmenet [his time expired]
“bullet” Wolf: Accuses Hinchey of being inflammatory. [Right.]
“bullet” Souder: Getting high is the same as getting smashed. Starts listing other drugs that can help. Physicians shouldn’t be making up FDA law. This is, in fact, asking to repeal the FDA. This isn’t about states’ rights – it’s about the states over-riding the federal government, which they can. It’s a bogus debate. Nobody’s going after individual doctors [really?] – we’re going after those big marijuana plantations with signs up in front saying this is medical. We’re not buying into the college dorm viewpoint that this is somehow medical. We’ve seen the vote decline here in the last few years and we’ll see it decline even more this year. [time ended].
Now we just have to wait for the vote.

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