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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.
"We're making great progress with pushing Congress in the right direction," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "This online interactive tool will help the public better understand how their Member of Congress votes on medical marijuana issues," continued Sherer. "Our elected representatives in D.C. are making policy decisions on medical marijuana that affect millions of patients in the U.S., and it's important for us to know how they're voting."
VoteMedicalMarijuana.org contains the voting track record of Members of Congress since 2012, as well as the legislation they have sponsored or cosponsored during the 113th Congress (2013-2014). The new website assigns a "grade" of A-F for individual House Members, and a pass/fail "grade" for individual Senators. In addition, the site identifies key champions of medical marijuana as "Patient Champions," reserved for co-sponsors of important legislation that protects state medical marijuana laws or seeks to develop a comprehensive federal policy.
The last vote on medical marijuana in Congress was in 2012, when an amendment to an appropriations bill was introduced to restrict funds that the Department of Justice (DOJ) spends on enforcement in medical marijuana states. At that time, the amendment received 163 votes in favor. By contrast, yesterday's VA vote garnered an unprecedented 195 votes, made up of 173 Democrats and 22 Republicans. Notably, a majority of freshman Members of Congress (42 Democrats and 2 Republicans) voted for the amendment.
"VoteMedicalMarijuana.org will better educate supporters in casting their ballot for candidates who have their best interests in mind," said Sherer. For more than a decade, polls have shown that 80 percent of Americans support medical marijuana. Unfortunately, such popular support is not reflected in the way that Congress votes on this issue. Advocates hope that VoteMedicalMarijuana.org will help change that political conflict.
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