Pro-marijuana group blasts Wasserman Schultz

Anthony Man, Sun-Sentinel

A pro-marijuana group is going after U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

It’s labeling her as “out of touch” because she was one of only 18 Democrats in the House who voted against legislation aimed at stopping the Drug Enforcement Administration from interfering with state medical marijuana laws.

And it’s aiming its criticisms directly at her base – in an ad that’s running in South Florida on MSNBC, the cable channel favored by Democrats where Wasserman Schultz is a frequent guest and a viewer. The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access released the ad Thursday.

It’s a classic negative spot, with unflattering black-and-white still pictures. It charges she thinks it’s OK to send ailing patients who need medical marijuana to prison.

Sean Bartlett, communications director for Wasserman Schultz, had no comment on the ad Thursday.

He said she voted against the amendment because, “The congresswoman believes that it is not appropriate to limit the ability of the Executive Branch to enforce federal law at their discretion.”

The vote in question was on an amendment to H.R. 4660, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., which passed 219-189, in the wee hours of the morning on Friday. The yes votes came from 49 Republicans and 170 Democrats, according to a statement from the Marijuana Policy Project.

The amendment would prohibit the Department of Justice, including the DEA, from spending funds to prevent states from implementing their own medical marijuana laws.

South Florida’s members of Congress split on the amendment, with most Democrats disagreeing with Wasserman Schultz’s view.

U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel, both Democrats who represent parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Democrat who represents northern Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie counties, and U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, a Miami-Dade County Democrat, voted for the amendment (meaning they voted to stop the feds from raiding state sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries).

Wasserman Schultz and U.S. Reps. Frederica Wilson, both Democrats who represent parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties, and U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican who represent parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties, all voted no.

The roll call shows U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Democrat representing Broward and Palm Beach counties, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami-Dade Republican, did not vote.

To back up its contention that Wasserman Schultz is out of touch, Americans for Safe Access cited a Quinnipiac  University Poll showing 88 percent of Floridians surveyed supported medical marijuana.

As part of its "Vote Medical Marijuana" campaign, the group prepared an online voting tool showing voting statistics and a report card for each member of Congress.

"The 'Vote Medical Marijuana' campaign will help the public better understand how their Member of Congress votes on these issues so they can use that information when they go to the ballot box," ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer said in a written statement. "Our elected representatives in Congress are making policy decisions on medical marijuana that affect millions of patients in the U.S."