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Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced today their plan to introduce a budget amendment to curb Department of Justice (DOJ) enforcement in medical marijuana states that has resulted in numerous, costly federal prosecutions, such as the widely watched Kettle Falls 5 case. The bipartisan senate amendment is similar to a House budget amendment that passed with an historic 219-189 vote last month. A Senate floor vote on the amendment is expected to take place either later today or tomorrow.
The bipartisan Senate medical marijuana measure, which would amend the Commerce, Science & Justice appropriations bill, comes as majority leader Harry Reid admitted that, "there's some medical reasons for marijuana." In an interview with the Las Vegas Sun, Reid who rarely takes on controversial issues said "We waste a lot of time and law enforcement going after these guys that are smoking marijuana."
Reid was referring to the type of federal prosecutions found in the case of the Kettle Falls 5, family members who are legal patients from Washington State growing medical marijuana for their own personal use. Despite repeated claims by the Obama Administration that it is not targeting individual patients in compliance with state law, and that it is seeking mandatory minimum sentencing reform, the DOJ is aggressively prosecuting the Kettle Falls 5 and seeking a minimum of 10 years to life in prison for each of them.
Leading medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) will be tracking the results of the Senate floor vote at VoteMedicalMarijuana.org as part of its "Vote Medical Marijuana" campaign to educate supporters and the general public on how their Members of Congress are voting on this issue.
"The Senate has a rare and unprecedented opportunity to listen to and act on the overwhelming popular support for medical marijuana across the country," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer about the upcoming floor vote. "It's about time we took a level-headed approach to this issue and, at minimum, end the unnecessary and harmful federal enforcement that is pushing patients into federal prison." Support for medical marijuana has consistently polled at 80 percent and higher among Americans.
As a result of last month's House passage of Amendment No. 25, the measure restricting DOJ enforcement in medical marijuana states, a controversy ensued over the 18 Democratic Members of Congress who voted against it. After ASA ran advertisements spotlighting some of those policymakers, the Democratic National Committee was forced to issue a statement distancing itself from individual members' opposition to medical marijuana.
If the Paul-Booker medical marijuana amendment passes in the Senate, it will be included in the House-Senate conference committee negotiations expected in August. After that, the budget bill will be sent to the President's desk for signature.
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