Medical Marijuana Advocates Hail Unprecedented, Major Victory in Congressional Vote to Curb DOJ Enforcement
Washington, D.C. -- In an unprecedented 219-189 floor vote late tonight, the House of Representatives approved the end of funding for Department of Justice (DOJ) enforcement in medical marijuana states. Advocates are hailing the vote as a major victory that signals a shift in the approach Congress is taking on this issue. The vote was on Amendment No. 25 to the Commerce, Justice & Science (CJS) appropriations bill. One hundred seventy Democrats and 49 Republicans voted in favor of the amendment.
Congressional Medical Marijuana Amendment Introduced Later Today Would Stop DOJ from Interfering in State Laws
Washington, D.C. -- A bipartisan group of Congressional House members are expected to introduce an amendment later today to the Commerce, Science & Justice (CJS) appropriations bill, which would stop the Department of Justice (DOJ) from using funds to interfere in the implementation of medical marijuana laws. The amendment, which is currently sponsored by 10 House members, 5 Republicans and 5 Democrats, comes after advocates have voiced concern over ongoing, aggressive enforcement actions despite a purported shift in DOJ policy marked by a guidance memo issued in August 2013. A House floor vote on the amendment is expected to occur tomorrow morning.
Federal Medical Marijuana Defendant, Members of Congress Hold Press Conference at the Capitol Wednesday at 9am
Washington, D.C. -- Medical marijuana patient Larry Harvey, 70, who will be tried in federal court next week in Spokane, Washington, is speaking out on Capitol Hill about his prosecution. Harvey will be joined by a bipartisan group of Congressional Representatives including Paul Broun (R-GA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Sam Farr (D-CA), and Americans for Safe Access (ASA) Executive Director Steph Sherer for a press conference on Wednesday, May 7th at at 9am to discuss Harvey's case and the "Kettle Falls 5," as well as an upcoming Congressional action aimed at ending these types of federal medical marijuana prosecutions.
Federal Medical Marijuana Defendant Larry Harvey Goes to Washington, D.C. to Lobby Congress Ahead of May 12th Trial
Washington, D.C. -- Medical marijuana patient Larry Harvey, 70, is traveling to Washington, D.C. this week to persuade Congress to stop funding unnecessary federal prosecutions like his. Harvey is one of the "Kettle Falls 5," a federal medical marijuana case that is scheduled to go to trial next week in Spokane, Washington on May 12th. Despite repeated claims by the Obama Administration that it is not targeting individual patients, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has spent more than $3 million so far to prosecute five patients who were each growing less than 15 plants in accordance with state law. If convicted, the DOJ could spend as much as $13 million to send them to prison.
Advocates Launch VoteMedicalMarijuana.org to Track Voting Records for Individual Members of Congress
Washington, D.C. -- The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) relaunched its VoteMedicalMarijuana.org website today, an interactive online tool that provides voting statistics and a report card for each Members of Congress. For example, the site provides details on yesterday's vote to allow Veterans Affairs (VA) physicians to recommend medical marijuana for their patients. Although the amendment didn't pass, it received more "yes" votes from Congress than any other previous effort to reform federal medical marijuana policy.
Washington, D.C. -- Veterans will be able to get recommendations to use medical cannabis from Veterans Health Administration (VHA) physicians if an amendment expected to be offered this evening passes. The VHA currently prohibits its medical providers from issuing the written recommendations that are required to participate in state medical cannabis programs and receive legal protections.
Spokane, WA -- Family members from a rural area of eastern Washington are expected to go to trial next month on federal marijuana charges, despite the Obama Administration's repeated claims that it does not target seriously ill patients. The federal trial of the "Kettle Falls 5" is scheduled for May 12th, pending several pretrial motions which will be heard on April 22nd before U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle in Spokane, Washington. Because of marijuana's illegal status under federal law, patients like the "Kettle Falls 5" are typically prohibited from raising a medical necessity or state law defense in federal court.
Annapolis, MD -- Governor Martin O'Malley signed HB 881 into law today, making Maryland the 21st medical marijuana state. The Maryland House of Delegates voted 125-11 last week to adopt HB 881, a medical marijuana bill that protect patients with severe pain, nausea, wasting syndrome, seizures, and severe muscle spasms from arrest and prosecution. Qualified patients will be able to obtain their medicine from licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, which will rely on licensed growers for their supply. Patients will be required to get approval from physicians who are approved by the state, and must obtain an identification card before they will be eligible to access a licensed dispensary.
Washington, D.C. -- District of Columbia Council member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) introduced legislation yesterday that would lift restrictions on physicians that currently prevent them from recommending medical marijuana to any patient who might benefit from it. If signed into law, the "Medical Marijuana Expansion Amendment Act of 2014" will remove the current set of medical conditions that qualify for medical marijuana use, and replace it with language that gives physicians the discretion to determine which patients should qualify. "The recommendation for medical marijuana is between a doctor and their patient not government," said Council member Alexander in a statement issued earlier this week.
Annapolis, MD -- The Maryland House of Delegates voted 125-11 yesterday to adopt HB 881, a medical marijuana bill that improves upon the law that was adopted by the state last year. If signed by Governor Martin O'Malley, HB 881 will protect patients with severe pain, nausea, wasting syndrome, seizures, and severe muscle spasms from arrest and prosecution. Qualified patients will be able to obtain their medicine from licensed medical marijuana treatment centers (MMTC), which will rely on licensed growers for their supply. Patients will be required to get approval from physicians who are approved by the state and must obtain an identification card before they will be eligible to access an MMTC.