U.S. House votes down change to end federal raids on medical marijuana

July 25, 2007

Jewels Phraner, Columbia Missourian

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday night voted down the latest medicinal marijuana bill, which sought to keep residents of states that allow marijuana for medicinal purposes safe from federal raids.

The Hinchey Amendment was denied in a 262-165 vote, gaining two more votes of approval this summer, in its fifth try through the House.

Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y. plans to try again and will push this amendment next summer, said Jeff Lieberson, a spokesman for Hinchey.

Lieberson said Hinchey will try to get more votes in favor of the bill by continuing to educate his colleagues about the bill.

“I think a lot of members wanted to vote yes to this bill,” he said. “But they were worried about the potential political impact.”

Columbia’s congressman, Republican Rep. Kenny Hulshof, voted against the bill, saying it would prohibit law enforcement officers from enforcing federal laws, Hulshof’s spokesman, Scott Baker, wrote in an e-mail.

“It makes no sense and sets a dangerous precedent,” Baker wrote.

Mike Hagan, who hosts “RadiOrbit” on KOPN/89.5 FM, said he thinks that those who voted against the amendment are “woefully uninformed.”

“(Hulshof) doesn’t know a thing about cannabis,” he said. “People are being punished, and almost criminalized, for being sick.”

Dan Viets, general counsel for the Columbia Alliance for Patience and Education, said this isn’t the first time the bill has failed, and “the battle may be won on a different front.”

He said 10 of the 17 presidential candidates have said they will put a stop to such federal raids.

“The odds are, our next president will be someone who will put a stop to this, and we won’t need the Hinchey Amendment after January 2009,” Viets said.

Hagan thinks it is worthless to fight this politically.

“I honestly don’t think that politicking is getting anywhere,” he said. “I will continue to talk to young people, my colleagues and anyone who will listen to try to help people become more aware. It has to do with education and understanding.”



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