House Lawmakers Request GAO Count Tax Dollars Wasted On U.S. Dept. of Justice Medical Marijuana Law Enforcement Activities

March 03, 2006

25in;'>Washington DC – By the request of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the nation’s largest medical marijuana advocacy organization,Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) this week led a group of three other House lawmakers in calling for a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation of how much money the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) spent each year over the past decade to enforce federal medical marijuana laws.  Joining Hinchey in the GAO request are Congressmen Ron Paul (R-TX), Sam Farr (D-CA), and (D-MA).  (The request may be viewed at http://www.safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=3142)

"We want to find out what the Department of Justice spends annually to prosecute medical marijuana patients so we can tell the American people exactly how much of their taxes is being wasted and diverted away from critical law enforcement activities, including homeland security activities," Hinchey was quoted saying in a press release from his office.

Eleven states have enacted laws permitting the medical use of marijuana under the supervision of a licensed physician. The Supreme Court in Gonzalez v. Raich (2005) held that states could still pass and continue to maintain their own medical marijuana laws.  However, the Majority held that the DEA under the DOJ could still enforce the Controlled Substances Act in these 11 states, but questioned the wisdom of doing so.  Since thisdecision, the DEA has continued to arrest and prosecute medical marijuana patient caregivers and cultivators.  In recent years, more than 20 large-scale raids of cannabis buyers' clubs have occurred in California, and a handful of raids have taken place in other states. 

An investigation to illustrate how much money the federal government is spending to harass and prosecute sick people is long overdue.We sincerely appreciate Congressman Hinchey’s steadfast leadership on behalf of medical marijuana patients,” said Caren Woodson, ASA’s Campaign Director.

Hinchey has led the bipartisan effort in Congress to stop the DOJ from prosecuting patients who use medical marijuana in compliance with state law through an amendment in a yearly Appropriations bill, which he is expected to reintroduce this Spring.

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A national coalition of 25,000 patients, doctors and advocates, Americans for Safe Access is the largest organization working solely on medical marijuana.  To learn more, see www.SafeAccessNow.org.



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