07.23.2003

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JULY 23, 2003

House Votes to Continue Attacks on Patients
Amendment to End DEA Medical Marijuana Raids Defeated, 152-273
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to allow the Bush administration’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to continue raiding and arresting seriously ill medical marijuana patients and caregivers in states that allow the medical use of marijuana. Nevertheless, patients and advocates were cheered by the growth in the number of congressional allies since the last House vote on medical marijuana in 1998 — and by the fact that more than two thirds of House Democrats voted to protect patients. The overall vote was 152 in favor, 273 opposed, and 10 not voting.

Today’s vote came on an amendment to the Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations bill introduced by U.S. Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). The amendment would have barred the Justice Department, including the DEA, from spending any money to raid or arrest medical marijuana patients and providers in states that have eliminated or reduced penalties for medical use of marijuana: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

“By defeating this amendment, the House today guaranteed that patients battling cancer, AIDS, MS, and other terrible illnesses who find relief from medical marijuana will continue to be rousted out of their beds by armed DEA agents, arrested, handcuffed, and jailed,” said Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. “This will happen even in states where the voters or state legislators have acted to protect patients from just this sort of cruelty and violence.

“It is particularly shocking that only 15 Republicans — who regularly advocate for states’ rights and reduced federal power — voted to end the DEA’s attacks on the sick,” Fox continued. “Nevertheless, the 152 votes in favor or protecting patients represent a 62% increase over the last House vote on medical marijuana, so we’ve made major progress. We are encouraged that more than two thirds of Democrats voted to protect patients.”

In 1998, the House passed a resolution condemning state medical marijuana laws by a vote of 311-94.

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