Senate Committee takes step to protect patients

July 28, 2017 | Geoff Marshall

By WCL New Service for The Leaf Online

“This success of the Leahy medical cannabis amendment acknowledges, yet again, that the federal government should not interfere with state medical cannabis programs. The passage of the Leahy medical cannabis amendment also shows that Senate support exists for the central elements of the CARERS Act. The CARERS Act would make the protections in Leahy medical cannabis amendment permanent and create a much needed framework for research and federal and state cooperation.” -Steph Sherer

The US Senate Appropriations Committee has just renewed an amendment that blocks the Justice Department from undermining state medical marijuana laws. The amendment passed by voice vote so individual votes were not recorded. Voice votes are normally used for non-controversial issues.

The amendment was sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) but the Senate Appropriations Committee vote included 16 Republicans, showing that medical cannabis remains one of the very few bipartisan issues in the USA.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has personally requested that Congress eliminate this amendment. He wanted free reign to prosecute medical marijuana providers and patients.

The Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment, formerly known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, has already been fought and litigated in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling and upheld in the People v McIntosh decision. The bill does not protect non-medical adult use of cannabis laws.

Voted welcomed by cannabis patients

When introducing the amendment, Senator Leahy stated, “We have more important things for the justice department to do than tracking down physicians or epileptics who are using medical marijuana legally in their state.

“This success of the Leahy medical cannabis amendment acknowledges, yet again, that the federal government should not interfere with state medical cannabis programs,” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access. “The passage of the Leahy medical cannabis amendment also shows that Senate support exists for the central elements of the CARERS Act. The CARERS Act would make the protections in Leahy medical cannabis amendment permanent and create a much needed framework for research and federal and state cooperation.”

“We are thrilled at this vote,” said Beth Collins, Senior Director of Government Relations and External Affairs at Americans for Safe Access. “With 91 Americans a day dying from opioid overdose, and a nearly 25% decrease in opioid overdose deaths in states with medical cannabis programs, it is crucial that states are able to continue without federal interference.”

“How far we’ve come; but our fight continues.

“This shows how far our issue has come over the last few years,” said Michael Collins of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The amendment has yet to be included in the final appropriations bill, but we’re confident it will — it has each year since 2014. Now Sessions can’t go after medical marijuana programs — at least for the next year.

“This is a huge victory, but our fight continues.”

AG Sessions, whose post was recently threatened by President Trump, who is said to favor medical marijuana although his appointees do not indicate such support, still has the authority to use draconian mandatory minimum sentences at the federal level. He can still increase the use of civil forfeiture against those who can’t afford to fight back. He can still wreak havoc on the eight states that have recreational marijuana laws.

AG’s secret group plans to jump start Drug War

Sessions mentioned on the day before the June 27, 2017 Senate vote that he has been implementing recommendations from a secret task force that pretends to link medical cannabis with violent crime. Statistics show this claim to be yet another lie to prop up the flailing Drug War. Subsequently, a report is expected today from the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety. This is consistent with a pattern of secret decision making processes within the Republican party designed to block democratic input on their political schemes.

“Sessions still has the authority to escalate the war on drugs and destroy countless lives and communities, said Collins. “Please consider becoming one today. In times like these, we need all the help we can get. A small monthly gift goes a long way.”

The annual appropriations bill still has to clear the Senate, the House Budget and be signed by the president to become binding.



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