House Amendment No. 272 (A025); Amends H.R. 2862 - the Science, State, Justice, and Commerce Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2006. Sponsor: Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] (offered June 15, 2005)
An amendment to prohibit any funds made available in the Act to the Department of Justice from being used to prevent the States of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, or Washington from implementing State laws authorizing the use of medical marijuana in those States.
II. General Reference(not clearly pro or con)
The Sacramento Bee, in a June 16, 2005 article, "House Rejects Measure to Bar Medical Marijuana Prosecutions" by David Whitney, wrote:
"A week after the Supreme Court ruled that medical marijuana laws in California and nine other states are no bar to federal drug prosecution, the House voted down an amendment that would have stopped the Justice Department from bringing such cases. Although medical marijuana advocates never thought they would have the votes to bar federal prosecutions, some had predicted that because of the heightened interest after the Supreme Court's ruling that they would do better than Wednesday's 264-161 vote.
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., said Tuesday that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco had been working the issue hard among Democrats and that he felt certain that there would be 180 or more votes for the amendment to a 2006 Justice Department funding bill.
Still, there was some comfort in Wednesday's vote for medical marijuana advocates. Since 2003, when the chamber took its first vote to bar spending money on federal prosecution of medical marijuana users, the number of members saying no to that idea has dropped by 11." June 16, 2005 Sacramento Bee
III. Pros & Cons - Arguments & Reactions
PRO Medical Marijuana
U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), co-sponsor of the amendment, stated in a June 15, 2005 press release issued by his office:
"I am encouraged and satisfied with today's vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on our amendment, which would have protected patients, who use medical marijuana in compliance with state law, from being hunted down and prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice. This year's vote brought us the most support we've ever had on this amendment. I fully recognize that progress on Capitol Hill is often incremental and we'll continue to push for this amendment each year until it passes....
Our amendment is about compassion and allowing patients the simple right of using the most effective medicine possible. Taxpayer dollars should not be spent on sending seriously or terminally ill patients to jail. A vote for this amendment was a vote for states' rights and compassion....
In the Supreme Court's majority opinion last week, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that this issue can be addressed through 'the democratic process, in which the voices of voters allied with these respondents may one day be heard in the halls of Congress.'
With this amendment, we sought to use the powers granted us in the Constitution and reaffirmed by the Supreme Court last week to do just that. While we were ultimately not successful today, I assure every American that we will continue to try to pass this legislation and won't give up until we succeed." June 15, 2005 Rep. Hinchey
The Marijuana Policy Projects (MPP) states in a June 15, 2005 email to their supporters:
"Today, June 15 , the U.S. House of Representatives defeated by a vote of 161-264 an amendment that would have prevented the DEA and the U.S. Department of Justice from spending taxpayer money to raid and prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers....
This is only the third time in history that the full House has voted on binding legislation to end the federal government's war on medical marijuana....
[T]he legislation received 13 more votes than it did last July, and several previously opposed Congressmen flipped their votes to 'yes'..." June 15, 2005 MPP
CON Medical Marijuana
U.S. Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) stated in his June 15, 2005 address to Congress:
"I rise in opposition to this pro-marijuana amendment. It has little, little to do with compassion. It is hiding behind a few sick people to try to, in effect, legalize back door marijuana in this country....
If passed, this amendment would put people in danger of shysters and quacks willing to recommend a dangerous drug, marijuana, in place of federally approved safe and proven medicines. You can get Marinol. We have got other ways by taking a pill to treat this. There are multiple chemicals in marijuana. It is not medicine. Marijuana is just as much medicine as the carbolic smoke ball from the later 19th century was medicine.... The rhetoric about marijuana as a 'treatment' for medical purposes... probably was dreamed up at some college dorm...
[L]et me state that my mother and father-in-law both recently died of cancer as well. Compassion is not limited to either side, but there is science and there is not science. In fact, the Carbolic Smoke Balls and the snake oil is very similar; getting high is the same as getting splashed....
Furthermore, we have heard kind of a silly argument here on the House floor today that physicians should be making up FDA law. Physicians do not do trials of a different drug when they come to market. Physicians do not have big testing agencies. That is why we have a Food and Drug Administration. This is in effect asking to repeal the Food and Drug Administration. June 15, 2005 Rep. Mark Souder
Eric A. Voth, MD, stated in a June 15, 2005 interview with U.S. newswire:
"First the Supreme Court, and now Congress has upheld the long-established scientific fact that marijuana is not medicine, and it reaffirms that medicine by popular vote is a dangerous process that bypasses the FDA, reduces consumer protections and jeopardizes sick patients. There has been much disinformation about so-called medical marijuana, but the truth is, it's an extremely harmful drug that can put the future of our children at risk." June 15, 2005 E. Voth
Calvina Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, Inc., stated in a June 15, 2005 interview with U.S. newswire:
"This victory is yet more proof that this is truly the end of the medical marijuana scam. On June 6, 2005 the Supreme Court ruled against Angel Raich in the controversial marijuana case Raich v. Gonzales, and since then more and more states are beginning to see beyond the smoke screen." June 15, 2005 Drug Free America Foundation
IV. 2005 Final Vote Totals in House (as per the official vote tally of the U.S. House of Representatives)
Brown, Corrine (D-FL)
Green, Al (D-TX)
Johnson, E. B. (D-TX)