Peace for Patients Policy Agenda CJS Policy Agenda

Amend CJS Appropriations Bill to Restrict DOJ and DEA Spending

Despite the fact that in nineteen states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws, and despite over one-million Americans using marijuana in accordance with statewide medical marijuana laws, the federal government has wasted an estimated $483 million dollars to subvert the successful implementation of these duly enacted laws.  In just over four years, the Obama Administration has spent more than $289 million to investigate, raid, prosecute, and incarcerate individuals who were acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.  This represents $100 million more than was expended during all eight years of the Bush Administration.

[Click Here to view the "What's the Cost: The Federal War on Patients" Report]

Until the federal government resolves the growing conflict between state and federal law, Congress should adopt the following language to restrict the DOJ from using limited resources to pursue patients and providers acting in accordance with state and local laws:

None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, [Illinois,] Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and District of Columbia, to prevent such States from implementing their State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.

Adopt the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act (HR 689)

The Supreme Court has long acknowledged that it is appropriate and desirable for states to act as “laboratories” for the nation, and US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has written this should also apply to developing a more reasonable and compassionate approach to medical cannabis. States are doing just that, but federal interference and intimidation slows the process, and in some instances, has thwarted states from enacting some innovative regulations altogether.

Congress can help states meet the needs of their citizens by passing legislation that grants states the right to regulate medical cannabis without federal interference.  HR 689, a bi-partisan bill known as The States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, provides a comprehensive approach to move federal policies forward.  The bill would reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to reflect its true medicinal value and would also make it less difficult for scientists to access marijuana for research purposes.

Full text of the bill can be found at: AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/States_MMJ_Patient_Protection_Act_2013.pdf

Adopt the Truth in Trials Act (HR 710)

During the past seventeen years, the United States Department of Justice has spent over $68 million to prosecute more than 240 cases against individuals in acting in clear compliance with a state or local medical marijuana law.  Unfortunately, federal defendants are forbidden from presenting evidence at trial that their marijuana-related activities were for therapeutic purposes and in compliance with state law, thus limiting their ability to present a defense in federal court.

Congress and the Administration should amend the Controlled Substances Act to provide an affirmative defense in federal court and establish legal protections for individuals who use or provide cannabis for therapeutic use in accordance with state and local law. The “Truth in Trials” Act (HR 710) would restore fundamental fairness in federal trials concerning the use or provision of marijuana solely for medical purposes in accordance with state law.

Full text of the bill can be found at:  AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Truth_in_Trials_2013.pdf

Support the Release of the Most Vulnerable POW’s

On June 11, 2013, Jerry Duval, a registered medical marijuana patient in the state of Michigan, began to serve a ten-year sentence at the Federal Medical Center in Devens, MA, for cultivating marijuana in accordance with the state law.  Mr. Duval is a kidney and pancreas transplant recipient and maintenance of his healthy bodily functions will cost approximately $100,000 per year. It is estimated that it will cost the American taxpayer upwards of $1.2 million dollars to keep Mr. Duval locked up and provide for his care.

The Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General issued a report in April that concluded “a properly managed compassionate release program inevitably provides cost savings to the BOP and provides assistance to the BOP in addressing its ever increasing and significant capacity problems.” The report also found that in the approximate 200 cases where compassionate release was approved by a Warden or Regional Director, 13% of the prisoners died while waiting for a decision from the BOP director.

Congress should urge the DOJ to release the most vulnerable prisoners, such as Jerry Duval and other medical cannabis patients.