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Congress Votes To Continue Prosecuting State-Authorized Medicinal Cannabis Patients

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163 House Members Vote To End Federal Prosecutions
Washington, DC: State-authorized patients and their caregivers who use or possess medical cannabis will continue to be subject to federal arrest and prosecution, after the House of Representatives rejected a proposed amendment that sought to bar the US Department of Justice (DOJ) from targeting patients who use cannabis medicinally in accordance with the laws of their states.
The House voted 259 to 163 against the bi-partisan measure, sponsored by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Maurice Hinchey (D-NY). The 163 House votes in favor of the patient-protection provision was the highest total ever recorded in a Congressional floor vote to liberalize marijuana laws. Of those who voted in support of the Hinchey/Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment, 18 were Republicans (a gain of three votes from 2005) and 144 were Democrats (a loss of one vote from last year). The House's only Independent Congressman, Vermont Representative Bernard Sanders, also voted in favor of the amendment.
"For the fourth year in a row, Congress had an opportunity to stop wasting taxpayers' dollars arresting seriously ill patients who possess and use medical cannabis in compliance with state law," NORML Executive Director St Pierre said. "Instead, 259 members of Congress chose to prosecute patients."
Representatives Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), along with Reps. Sam Farr (D-CA), Barney Frank (D-MA), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), David Obey (D-WI), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) spoke in favor of the amendment, while Reps. John Boozeman (R-AR), Steve King (R-IA), Tom Latham (R-IA), John Mica (R-FL), John Peterson (R-PA), and Frank Wolf (R-VA) spoke in opposition to the amendment.
Following the vote, Rep. Hinchey vowed to keep lobbying in favor of the medicinal use of cannabis. "People who are dying and suffering in states where medical marijuana is legal should be able to use the drug under a doctor's supervision to ease their pain without having to worry that the federal government is going to bust down their door and arrest them," he said. "It is immoral to deny people access to medicine that can help relieve their pain and suffering. We will continue our fight in Congress to protect medical marijuana users and doctors in states that allow such use. This is a battle that must be won."
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500. Final vote tallies for the Hinchey/Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment are available online at: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2006/roll333.xml
DL: http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=6940 Source: NORML Foundation (DC)
Published: June 29, 2006
Copyright: 2006 NORML
 

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