Lawmakers Submit Proposals to Put a Leash on the DEA

burnin1

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From HighTimes.com


Lawmakers Submit Proposals to Put a Leash on the DEA

By Mike Adams · Wed Jun 03, 2015


Federal lawmakers on the move to change the way the Department of Justice handles states that have legalized cannabis for both medicinal and recreational purposes are gearing up for what media sources are calling a “marijuana vote-a-rama” later this week.
A report from The Hill indicates that on Wednesday, bipartisan lawmakers will submit several proposals aimed at severing the authority of the Justice Department in an effort to prevent the agency from waging war against states where voters have harmoniously decided to legalize the leaf. Ultimately, these amendments would be attached to a new federal spending bill, which pot activists would cripple the beast of the Drug Enforcement Agency next fiscal year.
Among the six or so amendments to appear on Capitol Hill is one being sponsored by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher and Sam Farr of California, which would prevent federal funds from being used to go after states that have legalized medical marijuana. A similar measure was approved in 2014 and signed into law by President Obama, but that version expires in September 2015.
Yet, as we learned earlier this year in an article published by the Los Angeles Times, the Drug Enforcement Administration, which is overseen by the Justice Department, never really stopped prosecuting individuals and businesses associated with the medical marijuana.
Patrick Rodenbush, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, told the Times that the amendment attached to the federal spending bill only hinders Uncle Sam from “impeding the ability of states to carry out their medical marijuana laws,” but it does nothing to ensure the protection of the medical marijuana industry or the patients they serve.
Let’s hope the latest version of this particular amendment contains a provision that actually defends law-biding members of medicinal cannabis community from federal prosecution.
If not, Representatives Tom McClintock of California and Jared Polis of Colorado supposedly have a proposal that will. The lawmakers plan to introduce an amendment that will take the concept of last year’s “protect medical marijuana states” budget attachment and expand it to the recreational sector – reportedly with language that will prevent the sort of shakedown shenanigans we witnessed by the DEA over the course of the past year.
"This amendment will not only protect critically ill medical marijuana patients from federal prosecution but, unlike previous versions, will also apply to adult [recreational] use of marijuana in states where it is legal, like Colorado and Washington,” Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement.
Other amendments that are reportedly being discussed, includes one that would strip the funding the DEA uses to enforce marijuana laws and apply it towards solving rape cases. Another would stop the Justice Department from interfering in state hemp laws.

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From Drugpolicy.org

Press Release | 06/03/2015

Congress Passes Three Amendments to Stop DEA from Undermining State Marijuana Laws

Important Victories Build on Last Night’s Votes to End DEA's Controversial Bulk Data Collection Program, Cut DEA's Budget

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Legislators passed three amendments today to prohibit the DEA and U.S. Department of Justice from undermining state marijuana laws, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives' consideration of the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. A fourth amendment failed. The House also passed an amendment last night ending the DEA’s controversial bulk data collection program. It also passed three amendments cutting $23 million from the DEA’s budget, and shifted it to fighting child abuse, processing rape test kits, reducing the deficit, and paying for body cameras on police officers to reduce law enforcement abuses.
“There’s unprecedented support on both sides of the aisle for ending the federal war on marijuana and letting states set their own drug policies based on science, compassion, health, and human rights,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “The more the DEA blocks sensible reforms the more they will see their agency’s power and budget come under deeper scrutiny.”
Currently, 23 states, the District of Columbia and Guam have legalized marijuana for a variety of medicinal purposes – and an additional 16 states have passed laws to allow access to CBD oils, a non-psychotropic component of marijuana that has proven uniquely effective in managing epileptic seizures that afflict children. Four states – Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington – have legalized marijuana like alcohol. In 2016, voters in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada are expected to decide ballot initiatives on the question of legalizing marijuana for adult use. A slew of recent polls show that significant majorities of both Democrats and Republicans strongly believe that the decision of whether and how to regulate marijuana should be left up to the states.
A bipartisan amendment to protect state medical marijuana laws from federal interference passed 242-186. It was offered by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Sam Farr (D-CA), Reid Ribble (R-WI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Joe Heck (R-NV), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Don Young (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Tom McClintock (R-CA), and Dina Titus (D-NV). The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment passed the U.S. House last year with strong bipartisan support. It made it into the final CJS spending bill signed into law by the President. Because it was attached to an annual spending bill it will expire later this year unless Congress renews it.
A second marijuana amendment by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) passed 297-130. It would protect state laws that allow the use of CBD oils, but leave most medical marijuana patients and their providers vulnerable to federal arrest and prosecution.
A third amendment by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) passedby 282-146. It would prohibit the DEA from undermining state laws allowing the industrial use of hemp. A similar amendment passed the House last year.
A fourth bipartisan amendment prohibiting the DEA and Justice Department from undermining state marijuana laws failed, 206-222. It was offered by Representatives Tom McClintock (R-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Don Young (R-AK), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).
Three amendments cutting the DEA’s budget passed by voice vote last night. Rep. Ted Liew's (D-CA) amendment shifted $9 million from the DEA’s failed Cannabis Reduction and Eradication program to the VAWA Consolidated Youth Oriented Program ($4 million), Victims of Child Abuse Act ($3 million), and deficit reduction ($2 million). Rep. Steve Cohen’s (D-TN) amendment shifted $4 million from the DEA to a program to reduce the nation’s backlog in processing of rape test kits. Rep. Joaquin Castro’s (D-TX) amendment shifted $9 million from the DEA to body cameras for police officers to reduce police abuse.
Last night the House also adopted an amendment preventing DEA and DOJ from using federal funds to engage in bulk collection of Americans' communications records. It was offered by Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), David Schweikert (R-AZ), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).
In 2013 a major Reuters expose reported that the DEA has been collaborating with the NSA, CIA, and other agencies to spy on American citizens in the name of the War on Drugs. The journalists also revealed that DEA agents are actively creating -- and encouraging other agencies to create -- fake investigative trails to disguise where the information originated, known as “parallel construction”, a scheme that prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and others are arguing has robbed defendants of their right to a fair trial. Hundreds or thousands of cases could be affected. In April of this year USA Today reported that the DEA and Justice Department have been keeping secret records of billions of international phone calls made by Americans for decades. The program was the first known U.S. effort to gather bulk data on U.S. citizens, regardless of whether or not they were suspected of committing a crime. It formed the basis of post-9/11 spying programs.
"The DEA built the modern surveillance state," said Piper. “From spying on Americans to busting into people’s homes the DEA doesn’t fit in well in a free societyand the time is now to reverse these harms.”
The amendments are part of a growing bipartisan effort to hold the DEA more accountable and reform U.S. drug policy. The DEA has existed for more than 40 years, but little attention has been given to the role the agency has played in fueling mass incarceration, racial disparities and other problems exacerbated by the drug war. Congress has rarely scrutinized the agency, its actions or its budget, instead deferring to DEA administrators on how best to deal with drug-related issues. That all has changed recently after a series of scandals that sparked several hearings in the House and Senate and forced the resignation of the DEA’s beleaguered head, Administrator Michele Leonhart.

The Drug Policy Alliance recently released a new report, The Scandal-Ridden DEA: Everything You Need to Know, and placed a mock “we’re hiring” ad in Roll Call criticizing the DEA and their leadership. The report and a comprehensive set of background resources about the campaign to rein in the DEA are available at: www.drugpolicy.org/DEA.
“The DEA is a large, expensive, scandal-prone bureaucracy that has failed to reduce drug-related problems,” said Piper. “There's a bipartisan consensus that drug use should be treated as a health issue instead of a criminal justice issue; with states legalizing marijuana and adopting other drug policy reforms it is time to ask if the agency is even needed anymore.”
 

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from Theweedblog.

Americans For Safe Access Reacts To Historic Marijuana Votes

Posted by Johnny Green at 9:15 AM on June 4, 2015 Medical Marijuana Policy.

Americans For Safe Access press conference detroit michiganThe United States House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the Rohrabacher-Farr medical cannabis (marijuana) amendment to the Commerce, Science, and Justice (CJS) Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2015 by a margin of 242 to 186. The Rohrabacher-Farr medical cannabis amendment bans the Department of Justice from spending money to prevent the implementation of state-level medical cannabis programs, removing funding for federal medical cannabis raids, arrests and prosecutions in states where medical cannabis is legal. With the addition of seven states in the last year the Rohrabacher-Farr medical cannabis amendment now covers 39 states and protects access to medical cannabis programs for 275 million citizens in those states.

“The Rohrabacher-Farr medical cannabis amendment offers crucial protection for medical cannabis patients and the people that provide them with access to much needed medicine,” said Steph Sherer Americans for Safe Access Executive Director. “Having reaffirmed the federal government’s commitment to not interfere with state medical cannabis programs it’s now time to move forward and create a framework for federal and state cooperation in medical cannabis by passing the CARERS Act.”

Last year the House of Representatives passed the Rohrabacher-Farr medical cannabis amendment by a margin of 219-189 with a strong bipartisan show of support. Lead by the support of Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) the Rohrabacher-Farr medical cannabis amendment remained in the CRomnibus bill that President Obama signed into law. Its passage marked the first time Congress approved a medical cannabis reform since designating cannabis in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Today approximately 2.4 million Americans currently utilize medical cannabis programs.

“With the recent addition of Texas the vast majority of the country is now living in a state with at least some legal use of medical cannabis,” said Mike Liszewski Americans for Safe Access Government Affairs Director. “This vote shows the growing recognition that the only responsible course of action is for the federal government to leave state medical cannabis programs alone and let them provide their citizens with this much needed medical option.”

The Rohrabacher-Farr medical cannabis amendment was co-sponsored by a bipartisan coalition of six Republicans and six Democratic members including Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Sam Farr (D-CA), Reid Ribble (R-WI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Joe Heck (R-NV), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Don Young (R-AK) Jared Polis (D-CO), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV).

Source: Americans for Safe Access safeaccessnow.org
 

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From Theweedblog.org

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Reacts To Historic Marijuana Votes

Posted by Johnny Green at 8:45 AM on June 4, 2015


A bipartisan amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations spending bill that prohibits DEA and Department of Justice funds from being used to interfere in states that have legalized medical marijuana passed the House today by a margin of 242-186. The amendment is a renewal of the one that passed in May of last year and was reintroduced by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA). A similar amendment was also passed protecting states that have allowed industrial hemp. Yesterday, the House passed an amendment to ban the DEA’s bulk data collection program and slashed the DEA budget by $23 million. Instead, that money will now go to combat child abuse, improve the testing of rape kits, expand the use of body cameras on police officers, and reduce the deficit.
“Even Congress is now acknowledging the failures of the drug war and of the DEA and its invasive methods,” said Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. “Conservatives believe states have the right to decide their own rules, libertarians understand prohibition infringes upon civil liberties, and liberals know the effect prohibition has had on racial minorities, families, and communities.”
A separate amendment introduced by Representatives Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO) that would have prevented the DEA from undermining state rights in places that have legalized marijuana narrowly failed by a vote of 206-222.
“Continued protection for medical marijuana patients is something most politicians now agree upon, and we can expect that states’ recreational marijuana laws will soon have the same level of protection against federal interference,” said Lieutenant Commander Diane Goldstein (Ret.)
In August 2013, the Justice Department released a memorandum stating that the DOJ would no longer go after states that chose to legalize and regulate marijuana, as long as those states prohibited access to children, limited the involvement of organized criminal activity in the industry, and abided by other reasonable standards.
Currently, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana and four states along with D.C. have legalized marijuana outright. According to the centrist think tank Third Way, 67% of Americans believe Congress should pass a bill to protect states from federal interference if they choose to legalize marijuana, so long as a strong regulatory system is in place.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is a group of law enforcement officers opposed to the War on Drugs.
Source: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
 
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