AMENDMENT NO. 6 OFFERED BY MR. FARR
Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
Amendment No. 6 offered by Mr. Farr:
Insert before the short title at the end the following:
TITLE VIII–ADDITIONAL GENERAL PROVISIONS
SEC. 801. None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used to prevent the States of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, or Washington from implementing State laws authorizing the use of medical marijuana in those States.
The CHAIRMAN. Points of order are reserved, and pursuant to the order of the House today, the gentleman from California (Mr. Farr) and the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wolf) each will control 10 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California (Mr. Farr).
Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
(Mr. FARR asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, the purpose of this amendment is very straightforward. In simple terms, the Farr-Rohrabacher-Hinchey-Paul amendment prohibits the use of funds in the bill from preventing States that have medical marijuana laws from implementing them.
As a result, the States have medical marijuana laws on the books they can implement, regulate and enforce them, just like now. States that do not have medical marijuana laws on the books remain subject to the overarching Federal law.
This amendment does not stop law enforcement officials from prosecuting illegal use of marijuana. This amendment does not encourage the use of marijuana. This amendment does not encourage the use of drugs in children. This amendment does not legalize any drugs. This amendment does not change the classification of marijuana. This amendment is recognized as States’ rights to oversee the medical scope of practice of doctors in their States, to prescribe drugs as doctors see as necessary for medical conditions.
Today’s Los Angeles Times points out that the Justice Department’s medical marijuana war seems increasingly out of step with the whole country. Last fall, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling barring Federal officials from prosecuting doctors for their recommendations.
Just 2 weeks ago, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and other mainstream religious groups supported doctors’ rights to prescribe pot as a when-all-else-fails treatment for the seriously ill. The best way to thwart casual use of this drug is to let doctors prescribe it in closely circumscribed and regulated ways such as the States do.
Now, there are nine States that have passed these laws. The voters are speaking, and they are doing it more in every State. Just recently Vermont. Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington have enacted State medical marijuana laws. Because of these State laws, thousands of patients are able to alleviate their pain and suffering without fear of arrest by State or local authorities.
The threat of arrest by Federal agents, however, still exists. In the past, the Federal Government has impeded research on medical use of marijuana, even though thousands of patients have testified, explained, and acknowledged that it helps relieve some of the debilitating symptoms, such as nausea, pain, loss of appetite associated with serious illness.
Despite Federal admonitions against marijuana, the American people support medical marijuana and pretty overwhelmingly. Most national polls show the support around 70 percent.
This amendment is not necessarily about the actual medical purpose of marijuana, though I know scores of doctors have attested to marijuana’s medical benefits. In States where medical marijuana is legal, thousands of licensed physicians have recommended marijuana to their patients. This amendment is not about legalizing drugs, though some will argue that it should be.
No. What this amendment is about is States rights. In so many areas we trust States rights. And I think of us here in the United States Congress. We allowed States to draw our district boundary lines.
We allow States to set the fee we have to pay to run for office. We allow the States to create the primary procedures for getting elected to Congress. We allow the States to fashion Medicaid packages. We allow States to license doctors to practice. We trust the States to do what is best for their residents of that State. When it comes to health care policy or palliative care, the care of alleviating pain, nine States of the United States have determined that it is appropriate public policy to allow the use of marijuana as a prescribed treatment.
If Congress respects States rights in so many other areas, why does it not respect it with regard to medical marijuana?
Mr. Chairman, this amendment would prevent the Federal Government from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. It would end the DEA raids on medical marijuana patients and caregivers who are acting in accordance with state law. It would not–let me repeat–it would not prevent the DEA from arresting individuals who are involved in marijuana-related activities unconnected to medical use.
Here is the simple question posed by this amendment: Should the Federal Government arrest individuals who are trying to alleviate their own suffering or the suffering of others in compliance with state law?
I am only too familiar with the tension between DEA law enforcement and state and locally-sanctioned marijuana cooperatives in California. On September 5, 2002 in Santa Cruz, California–my district–dozens of heavily armed DEA agents stormed into the home of Valerie and Mike Corral where the cooperative garden of the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), a medical marijuana hospice, is tended by collective members. They destroyed 167 plants, which would have been distributed–free of charge–to more than 200 seriously and terminally ill WAMM members. Although the Corrals did not resist, the agents pointed loaded rifles to their heads, forced them to the ground, and handcuffed their hands behind their backs. The DEA agents kept them handcuffed in their home for 4 hours before taking them 30 miles to the Federal courthouse in San Jose where they were eventually released without being charged. Meanwhile, Federal agents handcuffed the Corral’s over-night guest, Suzanne Pfeil, a WAMM member who was disabled by polio, and detained two other members, one with AIDS and a caregiver. Pfeil happened to be sleeping when the raid occurred. Despite the fact that her leg braces and crutches were in plain sight, the agents demanded she stand, which she was unable to do with her hands cuffed. Pfeil’s blood pressure shot up and she experienced chest pains. Agents then refused to call an ambulance. All this pain, confusion and fear–yet WAMM was operating with the full knowledge and consent of state and local authorities.
Many people who oppose medical marijuana say that there is only anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness. But these anecdotes cannot be simply dismissed; they are the stories of real people who are suffering. Just this morning in Roll Call, there was a powerful example of this. Talk show host Montel Williams discussed his struggle to live with excruciating pain caused by multiple sclerosis. Montel Williams, a former Marine and decorated naval officer, who made anti-drug PSA’s for the White House drug czar’s office, explained in this article that marijuana is the “only” drug that allows him to function on a day-to-day basis. Now if he is using marijuana with his doctor’s advice and is following state law, why on earth should we waste Federal resources trying to prevent him from alleviating his own pain? And taking it a step further, if someone else is growing that marijuana for him and is following state law why should we take that medicine away from him by interfering with the grower?
The answer most opponents of this amendment will give is that marijuana simply is not a medicine. But this had become an absurd claim. First of all, both the Netherlands and Canada have enacted
medical marijuana laws, with marijuana available at pharmacies in the Netherlands. In the United States, nine states have medical marijuana laws that allow doctors to recommend marijuana to their patients. And in those states, hundreds of doctors have recommended marijuana to thousands of patients.
Even our Federal Government has acknowledged the therapeutic benefits of marijuana. In 1999, the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine conducted a study funded by the White House Office of National Drug Policy. The principle investigator from the study said upon its completion, “We concluded that there are some limited circumstances in which we recommend smoking marijuana for medical use.” An even stronger endorsement came from the DEA in 1988. Then, Administrative Law Judge Francis Young, after an exhaustive, 2-year study of marijuana, called for its rescheduling on the grounds that “marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.” He concluded, even 60 years ago, that marijuana offered a “currently accepted medical use in treatment.”
Over the past year, medical marijuana has gained even wider acceptance. It has been endorsed by the American Nurses Association, whose 2.6 million members care for the Nation’s most seriously ill patients; by the United Methodist Church, the Nation’s third largest religious denomination; by the New York and Rhode Island Medical Societies; and by many other health care organizations. Other longtime supporters of medical marijuana include the New England Journal of Medicine, the American Bar Association, and the American Public Health Association.
Do opponents of this amendment honestly believe the American Nurses Association, the New York State Medical Society, United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, and others are supporting this issue because they hope to legalize marijuana for all purposes? Of course that isn’t the reason. These organizations support legal access to marijuana for medical purposes because they know one simple fact: it helps sick people.
Other opponents of this amendment say that they will not support medical marijuana until more research is complete. The problem is that the Federal Government has effectively blocked research. To cite just one example, in July 2001, the University of Massachusetts applied to the DEA for a license to manufacture marijuana for medical research. This is the same kind of license a company called GW Pharmaceuticals applied for in England a few years ago. While GW Pharmaceuticals has now concluded Phase III trials and is nearing market approval for its marijuana spray, the DEA–3 years later–has not even bothered to deny the University of Massachusetts’ license. Of course, they have not granted it, either. They have just let the application sit in limbo.
Antoher application to the Federal Government, requesting permission to import just 10 grams of marijuana for research has languished for 10 months. Does our government think 10 grams of marijuana is going to increase the drug problem in this Nation? Of course not. The Federal goal seems to be to purposely to block research that would prove–or disprove, once and for all–that marijuana has therapeutic benefits.
But let’s assume for a minute that all of the obstacles to research were suddenly removed. That does not get us past the immediate question: Should the Federal Government, over the course of the
next year, while research is proceeding, arrest patients and caregivers who are complying with state law in order to alleviate their own suffering or the suffering of others?
Another objection raised by opponents of this amendment is that passing it would send the wrong message to children. It would make children think that marijuana is not dangerous. Let me tell you something. Children know how dangerous marijuana is already. Allowing seriously ill patients to use it will not change that. And associating the use of marijuana with AIDS and chemotherapy is not likely to increase its appeal. On the other hand, if you deny cancer, AIDS, and MS patients the opportunity to use this drug to alleviate their pain–while permitting the medical use of powerful addictive drugs like vicodin and oxycontin–the only message you are sending to children is that you are intellectually dishonest and completely lacking in compassion.
The truth is, where medical marijuana is legal, there has been no increase in marijuana
[Page: H5302] use among teens. In fact, in my home state of California, teen use of marijuana has dropped 34 percent among 7th graders, 44 percent among 9th graders, and 21 percent among 11th graders since the California medical marijuana initiative passed in 1996. The same Institute of Medicine study described earlier noted, “there is no evidence that the medical marijuana debate has altered adolescents’ perceptions of the risks associated with marijuana use.” Listen closely today to hear whether opponents of this amendment back their warning about sending the wrong message to children with any evidence demonstrating that medical use has caused a change in attitude about recreational use; I doubt there will be any with any scientific weight.
Mr. Chairman, this amendment is reasonably drafted and built on scientific evidence, judicial review, and medical studies. It reflects the grass roots demand and legislative will of nine of our United States. It is time for Congress to recognize the powerful dynamics of this issue and adopt my amendment.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. WOLF. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 1 minute.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to this amendment. This is a bad amendment. It will be bad for the country.
Marijuana is the most abused drug in the United States. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, more young people are now in treatment for marijuana dependency than for alcohol or for all other legal drugs combined. The amendment does not address the problem of marijuana abuse and possibly, perhaps probably, makes it worse by sending a message to young people that there can be health benefits from smoking marijuana.
In testimony before the Committee on Government Reform, the DEA provided an example of how marijuana trafficking is occurring under the guise of medicine. And there is so much more I could say, and we have the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder) here and the gentleman from California (Mr. Ose). This is not a good amendment. The message that this sends to the young people is absolutely wrong. This was overwhelmingly defeated the last time it came up. I urge defeat of the amendment.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman I yield 3 minutes and 15 seconds to the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher).
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Chairman, today I call for a broad coalition of my colleagues to support the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment to H.R. 4754, introduced by the gentleman from California (Mr. Farr).
Over the past 8 years, 10 States have adopted laws that decriminalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. These States have passed these laws to allow the use of marijuana to relieve intense pain that accompanies several debilitating diseases, including AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and glaucoma. In seven of these States, such as my own State of California, these laws were adopted by a direct referendum of the people.
The Federal Government, however, has made it nearly impossible for these States to implement their own laws, the laws that the people voted for. The DEA has conducted numerous raids on homes of medical marijuana users, prosecuting patients who were using marijuana in accordance with State law to relieve intense pain and other symptoms caused by a variety of illnesses. Despite these State laws, the Justice Department is working overtime to put sick people and those who would help them in jail.
It is time for the Federal Government to respect the rights of individual States to determine their own health and criminal justice policies on this matter. A growing movement of Americans from conservative to liberal is calling for the Federal Government to keep its hands off the States that wish to allow their citizens to use marijuana for medical purposes. In my State, the people have spoken overwhelmingly. Both Republican and Democrat counties voted for medical freedom. Our new Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has made it clear in regard to the Federal Government’s interference with California’s medical marijuana policy in his message to Washington, and what is it? It is “Hasta la vista, baby.” Even more poignant, Tom McClintock, Arnold’s leading conservative opponent in the recent recall election, has spoken out even more strongly against the Federal interference with California’s medical marijuana laws. The Governor of Maryland also, our former Republican colleague, Robert Ehrlich, has signed Maryland’s new medical marijuana law and has lobbied Members of Congress on this issue.
As a conservative, I am increasingly troubled by the federalization of criminal law that has occurred in recent years. It seems that more and more crimes are being declared to be Federal crimes. While sometimes this is appropriate, for example in immigration law, which is a federally mandated issue by our Constitution, but criminal justice constitutionally is the domain of the State and local government. This is especially true when the people of these many States determine by their own vote the policy concerning this specific personal behavior.
It is time for the conservatives and liberals to join together in calling for the Federal Government to keep its hands off. Liberals, moderates, and conservatives should unite in order to protect the freedom of our people. This is a freedom issue, and it is also a humanitarian issue. We should make sure that the local people have a right to determine if the doctors in their community, and that is what we are talking about, the doctors are able to prescribe marijuana for people who are suffering from AIDS and suffering from cancer and other types of diseases. This is not fair, and it is not humane to go the other way; and it is un-American to centralize this type of criminal justice matter in the hands of Federal bureaucrats rather than the people who vote in our specific communities.
Mr. WOLF. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Burgess).
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Chairman, I would just like to point out that as a physician before I came to Congress, medical marijuana is actually not necessary because the active ingredient in medical marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. This is a compound that is readily available not in a handful of States as medical marijuana is, but in every State of the Union. It is legal today. It is called Marinol. It is a pill. It is easy to take. And people who suffer from cancer, people who have anorexia from chemotherapy, people who suffer from AIDS may use Marinol today to their benefit.
Mr. Chairman, it just challenges the imagination. As a physician, I wrote a lot of prescriptions for morphine for patients who were in pain. I would have never recommended to a patient that they go home and score some opium and smoke it. That would be an inappropriate way for them to deliver the drug.
This drug is delivered in a humane and compassionate way. It is delivered in a way that deals with the symptoms it is designed to deal with, and we do not explode the drug culture in this country by doing so.
Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Paul).
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time.
Mr. Chairman, I, too, am a physician from Texas, but I have a little different opinion about Marinol. No doctor that I know of ever prescribes Marinol.
I think marijuana is a helpful medical treatment for the people who have intractable nausea. I would like to point out this is not something strange that we are suggesting here. For the first 163 years of our history in this country, the Federal Government had total hands off, they never interfered with what the States were doing. They interfered only after 1938 through tax law. So this is something new.
The States’ rights issue is almost a dead issue in the Congress, but we ought to continue to talk about it, and I am delighted somebody has brought this up.
But if you do have compassion and care for patients, they ought to have a freedom of choice. I think that is what this is all about, freedom of choice.
I would like to point out one statistic. One year prior to 9/11 there were 750,000 arrests of people who used marijuana; there was one arrest for a suspect that was committing terrorism.
[Page: H5303] Now, that, to me, is a misdirected law enforcement program that we could help address here by at least allowing the States to follow the laws that they already have on the books.
Mr. WOLF. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Burns).
Mr. BURNS. Mr. Chairman, in 2001, the FDA approved the pain killer OxyContin, knowing that it had a high probability of being diverted for illicit use. We felt that the gain was worth the risk. The abuse, unfortunately, of OxyContin is now a nationwide epidemic.
In spite of the fact that, unlike OxyContin, there are safe and effective and legal alternatives to smoking pot for pain relief, we are now considering the use of marijuana for its medical purposes.
The active ingredient, as the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Burgess) pointed out, is readily available in an FDA-approved capsule. This pill delivers THC, it does not carry the dangers inherent with smoking marijuana, nor does it undermine the law enforcement efforts that fight illegal drug use.
Mr. Chairman, the legalization of medical marijuana is simply the first step in a scheme to overturn all the substance abuse laws that we work hard to enforce today. We need to vote “no” on legalization of marijuana and its use in America.
Mr. WOLF. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute of the 3 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. Ose)
Mr. OSE. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in absolute, 100 percent opposition to this amendment. I have listened to the arguments of my friends from Texas and my friend from California in one case and my friend from California in the other, and I have to say that their argument on States’ rights is a unique application as it relates to so-called “medical marijuana.” But I have not yet heard a single bit of testimony dealing with whether or not there is any medical value to the application of marijuana in this case.
Now, the so-called phrase “medical marijuana” is a misnomer. It was invented by the people who passed the proposition in California that, frankly, hoodwinked the voters of California into voting in favor of it. But I just want to run through a couple of things here.
The FDA looks at all sorts of prescription drugs and pharmacological treatments, and they have looked at marijuana, and by and large, we have deferred to the FDA on all these analyses. But, all of a sudden, when it comes to so-called “medical marijuana,” the FDA is no longer competent. But I do want to enter into the RECORD that the FDA, in fact, did look at marijuana as a medical substance and found absolutely no value whatsoever to its use.
Now, the FDA has, in fact, looked at Marinol, in which the active ingredient in so-called “medical marijuana” is present, THC, and has approved that for use in treating nausea and pain and the like, and it is readily available by prescription, a true prescription, from a doctor.
Let us dwell for a minute in California, which I am familiar with, on this so-called “medical marijuana” and the facade that people go through to obtain it.
First of all, the referendum requires that a doctor issue a so-called prescription. However, the doctor refuses to issue a prescription on a prescription form for so-called medical marijuana. They write it on a piece of blank paper, because the doctors know that it is not a prescription, it is a facade perpetrated upon the people of California that this has any medical qualities whatsoever.
Now, my friend from Indiana is going to share with you the story of a tragic occurrence in San Francisco, and I am not going to jump the gun on him, because this is absolutely heartbreaking, what he is going to tell you. But I do want to tell you, that incident is not singular in nature.
The fact of the matter is we have children, young people across this country, watching you and me and our peers across this country as it relates to the use of so-called medical marijuana, and if you think for one minute that they are going to turn a blind eye to our acquiescence, that just because it happens to be a little bit difficult to tell people “No, you are not going to be able to smoke dope,” just because it happens to be a little bit difficult to tell people that, that we are going to roll over and pass this prohibition on funds, just begs the imagination about what leadership really constitutes.
Mr. WOLF. Mr. Chairman, who has the right to close?
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Virginia has the right to close.
Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I have a parliamentary inquiry.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman will state his parliamentary inquiry.
Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I thought the author of the amendment has the right to close.
The CHAIRMAN. The chairman of the subcommittee, controlling time in opposition to the amendment, has the right to close.
The gentleman from California (Mr. Farr) has 1 3/4 minutes remaining, and the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wolf) has 4 minutes remaining.
Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Woolsey).
Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of this amendment because my mother had glaucoma and we bought her marijuana because it was a relief, and that was before this bill was passed in the State of California.
I support this amendment because it respects State authority, because the people in our State believe medical marijuana is a way to relieve those suffering from cancer, from glaucoma, from AIDS, from spastic disorders and other debilitating diseases.
This amendment will do only one thing: It will stop the Justice Department from punishing those who are abiding by their State laws. It changes no law.
Mr. Chairman, I ask my colleagues, support this amendment so that those who suffer from debilitating diseases can get the relief that they need, and they can get it without fear of the Federal Government.
Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to respond to the comment of the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wolf). I am going to read here that in the State of California, teen use of marijuana has dropped 34 percent among seventh graders, 44 percent among ninth graders and 21 percent among eleventh graders since the California medical marijuana initiative passed in 1996.
Also, I would like to point out that this is not such a radical amendment. It only affects the States that have State laws, that have the enforcement. We have not heard from law enforcement opposing this. We have heard from the American Nursing Association, the United Methodist Church, the New York Medical Society, the Rhode Island Medical Society, the New England Journal of Medicine, the American Bar Association, the American Public Health Association and the Episcopal Church. They all support this amendment.
Mr. WOLF. Mr. Chairman, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder).
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman is recognized for 4 minutes.
(Mr. SOUDER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. SOUDER. Mr. Chairman, first, do not let any Member kid themselves; if you cannot enforce a Federal law, you do not have a Federal law. This would eliminate our ability to enforce marijuana laws in States that have passed this.
My friend from California alluded to a very sad case in the State of California. When we as Members use phrases like “medical marijuana” and responsible officials imply that drugs like marijuana are medical, tragedies like this happen.
Irma Perez, age 14, the late Irma Perez, was overdosing on Ecstasy. Her friends had heard that marijuana was medical, and instead of getting her to a doctor, where they said she would have been saved, they gave her marijuana on top of her Ecstasy and she died.
When we have silly debates like this, quite frankly, we bear responsibility. Yesterday, in Ohio, six people died, including a family of four, two adults and two children, when a young person on marijuana and alcohol collided into a truck that hit two other vehicles and killed six people.
If you have medical marijuana laws, like has happened in a court case in the State of Oregon, drug testing laws for truck drivers have been thrown out. It is now being appealed higher, but it is not even clear that you can be assured that our congressional drug testing law for truck drivers will stand up, given the way the courts are interpreting this.
In California, we have a doctor that has given 348 patients under this medical marijuana, including for anxiety and restless leg syndrome. In Oregon, we have a doctor who gave it to 4,000 people over the last few years. We have another doctor in California who uses it, we actually had this person at our hearing, for ADD and hyperactivity, even though she admitted she has no evidence that it worked for those things, but she felt it would make them feel better.
You either believe you have an FDA or you do not have an FDA. We hear about all kinds of other things that FDA cracks down on. Either you have a national FDA or you do not have an FDA.
Furthermore, just last week in Oakland, California, they pulled over a group of guys with about 66 pounds of marijuana. They said it was for medicinal purposes. They found where it was coming from, and they found a warehouse. In this warehouse, they found millions of dollars of marijuana where the people started fleeing, and then these advocates of medical marijuana in California said, Oh, it was so medical.
The person who owned the building had already been busted for transporting illegal drugs. He had lost his license as a pawnbroker. But, no, this was medical marijuana. Some estimate that up to 90 percent of the cases, this is the pro-medical marijuana cases, of marijuana use in California, would be classified as medical.
That is why we have letters, and I will include these in the records, from the Community Antidrug Coalition, and Dr. Dean, who coordinates these efforts, says he opposes it; the Fraternal Order of Police; the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, who plead on behalf of the drug treatment and prevention groups in America to oppose this; the Drug-Free America Foundation; and the U.S. Department of Justice, which is concerned that they will not be able to enforce any drug laws if we do not allow the Federal Government to enforce.
We need to defeat this amendment because it is the wrong message to our youth, it is the wrong message to our law enforcement, it is the wrong message to our drug treatment people, it is the wrong message to the people in the streets of their neighborhoods trying to reclaim their often crime-ridden neighborhoods from drug dealers and addicts in their areas, and it is, quite frankly, unconstitutional.
We fought a Civil War over nullification. States do not have the right. If we can have States nullify an existing Federal law, then on what grounds can this not happen under the same precedent, a lack of enforcement on environmental laws, of civil rights laws, of the Americans with Disabilities Act, of any law? Because once a State can nullify a Federal law by saying, We cannot enforce it, you do not have a Federal system.
This is an amendment fraught with difficulties and should be overwhelmingly defeated by both sides for a multitude of reasons.
Mr. Chairman, I include for the RECORD the letters referred to earlier in my statement.
COMMUNITY ANTI-DRUG COALITIONS OF AMERICA,
Alexandria, VA, July 1, 2004.
Hon. MARK SOUDER,
House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, Rayburn House Building, Washington, DC.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: On behalf of the 5,000 coalition members that Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) represents, I am writing to strongly urge you to oppose an amendment to be offered by Representative Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY) to the Commerce, Justice, State, Judiciary and Related Agencies FY 2005 Appropriations bill which would effectively prohibit enforcement of Federal law with respect to use of “medical” marijuana. I strongly urge you to oppose this amendment not only because marijuana is an illegal, addictive Schedule I drug, with no medicinal value, but also because this sends the entirely wrong message to the youth of America.
Marijuana is not a harmless drug: it is the most widely abused illicit drug in the nation. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Treatment Episode Data Set, approximately 60% of adolescent treatment cases in 2001 were for marijuana abuse. Research shows that the decline in the use of any illegal drug is directly related to its perception of harm or risk by the user. Advertising smoked marijuana as medicine sends the wrong message to America’s youth–that marijuana is not dangerous. Congressman Hinchey’s amendment goes even further by removing the ability of law enforcement officials to enforce Federal law. The efforts of the drug legalization movement, to promote the myth of “medical” marijuana and to stifle the efforts of law enforcement agencies to enforce Federal law severely dilutes the prevention efforts that community anti-drug coalitions across America are undertaking to communicate marijuana is dangerous, it has serious consequences, and is illegal.
Congressman Hinchey’s amendment is offered under the guise of compassion towards seriously ill patients, when in reality it is a “Trojan horse” to legalize marijuana. To date, the FDA has not approved nor has it found any medicinal value in smoked marijuana, which is why it remains a Schedule I controlled substance. Furthermore, in the States that have legalized marijuana for so-called “medicinal” purposes, seriously ill, elderly patients are not the only patients receiving marijuana–children are also. At a hearing before your Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, Dr. Claudia Jensen, of Ventura, California, testified that she prescribes marijuana as medicine for adolescents under her care who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). In a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics stating their opposition to the legalization of marijuana, they state that “Any change in the legal status of marijuana, even if limited to adults, could effect the prevalence of use among adolescents.” What kind of a message are the youth of America receiving when doctors willingly give children marijuana–it tells children that marijuana is not a dangerous drug.
Mr. Chairman, I strongly urge you to help us protect our nation’s youth and oppose any and all amendments limiting the enforcement of the Federal law pertaining to marijuana use. Thank you for considering my views.
Arthur T. Dean,
Major General, U.S. Army, Retired,
Chairman and CEO.
— GRAND LODGE, FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE,
Washington, DC, July 6, 2004.
Hon. MARK SOUDER,
Chairman, Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources, Committee on Government Reform, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: I am writing on behalf of the membership of the Fraternal Order of Police to advise you of our strong opposition to an amendment which may be offered to H.R. 4754, the appropriations measure for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary, which is scheduled to be considered on the House floor this week. The amendment, which was offered last year by Representative Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY), would effectively prohibit enforcement of Federal law with respect to marijuana in States that do not provide penalties for the use of the drug for so-called “medical” reasons.
In these States, Federal enforcement is the only effective enforcement of the laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana. Federal efforts provide the sole deterrent to the use of harder drugs and the commission of other crimes, including violent crimes and crimes against property, which go hand-in-hand with drug use and drug trafficking. Federal investigations of marijuana producers also serve to disrupt larger drug trafficking organizations, particularly in the State of California where marijuana is sometimes traded for precursor chemicals for methamphetamines, and in the Sate of Washington, which is a significant gateway for high-potency marijuana that can sell for the same price as heroin on many of our nation’s streets.
Such an amendment threatens to cause a significant disruptive effect on the combined efforts of State and local law enforcement to reduce drug crime in every region of the country. On behalf of the more than 318,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, we urge its defeat. If I can be of any further help on this issue, please feel free to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco through my Washington office.
PARTNERSHIP FOR A DRUG-FREE AMERICA,
New York, NY, July 7, 2004.
Hon. FRANK WOLF,
Chairman, House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and State, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This letter is to express our opposition to an amendment being proposed to the Commerce, Justice, State FY 2005 appropriations bill, scheduled for consideration today. Congressman Maurice Hinchey is proposing an amendment that again seeks to prohibit the enforcement of
federal law pertaining to marijuana in states that have decriminalized the use of marijuana for medicinal application. The proposed amendment is likely to have the unintended effect of handicapping federal law enforcement agents from enforcing all laws pertaining to marijuana use and trafficking. Therefore, we encourage you and members of the committee to oppose this amendment.
The issue of medical applications of smoked marijuana is one for the medical and scientific communities to evaluate. As you know, state-based referenda on this issue are not homegrown initiatives, but rather are being driven and financed by a handful of national organizations that seek to legalize marijuana and other drugs. The position of the medical community is quite clear on this issue. The American Medical Association, for example, calls for further adequate and well-controlled studies of smoked THC for serious medical conditions, but the AMA recommends that marijuana be retained in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act pending the outcome of such studies.
The last thing we need to do is making marijuana more available on the streets of America. Please ensure that federal law enforcement officials can enforce federal laws relevant to marijuana.
Thank you for your consideration.
Stephen J. Pasierb,
President, Chief Executive Officer.
— NATIONAL NARCOTIC OFFICERS’
West Covina, CA, July 1, 2004.
Hon. MARK SOUDER,
Chairman, Committee on Government Reform, Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC.
DEAR CHAIRMAN SOUDER: I am writing on behalf of the forty state narcotic officers associations and more than 60,000 state and local law enforcement officers that are represented by the National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition (NNOAC) to offer our strong opposition to an amendment that will be offered in the United States House of Representatives that would effectively prohibit the enforcement of Federal marijuana laws in states that do not provide penalties for the use of what has been deemed “medical” marijuana.
As you know, despite opposition by the American Medical Association and other credible medical and health organizations, drug legalization activists have chosen to seek the medicalization or legalization of marijuana by relying on the emotions of local voters rather than science based data and the recommendations of the medical community. This reckless approach has resulted in several states adopting medical marijuana laws and relying on public emotion rather than science to approve crude, smoked marijuana for medical use. This action has circumvented the patient protections provided in the Pure Food and Drug Act, which have served to keep Americans safe from dangerous or untested remedies since it was enacted in 1906.
Because marijuana enforcement by Federal officials is now the only effective enforcement of the marijuana laws in several states where medical initiatives have all but legalized the drug, the passage of this amendment would have disastrous results. This enforcement of marijuana laws provides a strong deterrent to the use of marijuana, which also helps reduce the use of hard drugs and the resulting property and violent crimes. Enforcement also sends a strong message to our young people that marijuana use is dangerous and unacceptable. And finally, law enforcement provides a social stigma to marijuana use that helps to prevent the normalization of drug use. Without this enforcement, many people will be lured into believing that marijuana use is safe and poses no threat of addiction.
Federal investigations of marijuana cultivators also serve to disrupt larger drug trafficking organizations, particularly in the state of California, where marijuana is sometimes traded for precursor chemicals for methamphetamine into the state of Washington, which is a significant gateway for high potency marijuana that can sell for the same price as heroin. The HINCHEY Amendment threatens to cause a significant disruptive effective on state and local law enforcement of both drug laws and of other crimes affecting public safety in states where it would apply.
The members of the NNOAC strongly encourage you and your colleagues in the Congress to support their local law enforcement officers, health-care workers, educators, and community anti-drug activists, who are dedicated to working towards safe drug free communities by vigorously opposing this dangerous amendment. The passage of the HINCHEY Amendment would have a catastrophic effect and would result in increased drug use and related violence, marijuana related DUI collisions, lost productivity and work place accidents.
Please accept the thanks of our 60,000 members for all that you and your colleagues do to support law enforcement and to help us keep this great nation safe and drug free.
Ronald E. Brooks,
— July 6, 2004.
DEAR REPRESENTATIVE: I have dedicated the past three decades to fighting the war on drugs and as such, I am urging you to oppose the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment because of the staggering effect it will have on society.
I have helped form public policy in the United States’ campaign against drugs through participation in the White House Conference for a Drug Free America, as a member of the Governor’s Drug Policy Task Force in Florida and as a board member of DARE Florida (Drug Abuse Resistance Education.) I presently reside in Rome while my husband serves as the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Italy.
With this experience, I can tell you that drug legalization efforts abound today in the United States with deceptive campaigns that exploit the sick and dying. Medical excuse marijuana is the most common tactic used by legalization proponents. This new amendment intends to prohibit the U.S. Justice Department (including the DEA) from interfering with state medical excuse marijuana laws. If passed, the pro-drug lobby will once again undercut the federal government.
In reference to using the medical marijuana excuse, there has never been controversy about the use of purified chemicals in marijuana to treat any illness; however, marijuana cigarettes are not medicine. The false portrayal of smoked marijuana as a helpful medicine has contributed to the increased use of marijuana and other drugs by young people. Sixty percent of youths in drug treatment today are there for marijuana addiction.
In areas where medical excuse marijuana is legal, people are toking up under the guise of treating conditions such as premenstrual syndrome, athlete’s foot and migraines. The Institute of Medicine (IOM), found marijuana effective in addressing symptoms of nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety. However, the same report concluded that, “smoked marijuana is unlikely to be a safe medication for any chronic medical condition.”
Our nation is under attack by extremely well-financed groups, whose sole intention is to profit from drug legalization. They don’t care about civil liberties or our nation’s children. They only care about getting rich at the cost of a deteriorated society. They frequently use compassion for the sick and dying as one of their manipulative tactics to normalize drug use. These groups would like nothing more than to eliminate governmental regulation. It is imperative that state government be accountable to federal government, especially when it comes to drug policy.
As a drug prevention and policy expert, caring mother and grandmother, I urge you–do not vote for the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment.
BETTY S. SEMBLER,
Founder and Chair,
Drug-Free America Foundation.
— U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,
OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS,
Washington, DC, July 7, 2004.
Hon. FRANK WOLF,
Chairman, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary, Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: The Department of Justice would oppose any amendment to appropriations legislation preventing the Justice Department or the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) from enforcing the Controlled Substances Act with respect to marijuana either generally or in specified States. Any such limitation would interfere with the protection of public health and safety against marijuana, which is dangerous to both users and non-users and is the most widely abused illicit drug in America. Moreover, a provision applying only to certain States would unfairly and inappropriately prevent uniform enforcement of Federal law nationwide.
Marijuana is a widespread health and social concern. More young people are currently in treatment for marijuana dependency than for alcohol and all other illegal drugs combined, and mentions of marijuana use in emergency room visits have risen 176 percent since 1994, surpassing those of heroin. Marijuana also can have a dangerous impact on non-users, as demonstrated by the problem of drugged driving. Marijuana affects alertness, concentration, perception, coordination, and reaction time–skills that are necessary for safe driving. Use of marijuana and other illicit drugs also comes at significant expense to society in terms of lost productivity, public health care costs, and accidents. Accordingly, the Justice Department and the DEA continue to vigilantly enforce Federal laws against marijuana trafficking. Any limitation on enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act with respect to marijuana would jeopardize our efforts to continue reducing youth drug use and to protect the public.
The same considerations are important for persons who, contrary to controlling Federal law, would use smoked marijuana for purported medical purposes. States are free to define criminal acts and impose corresponding penalties, under State law, in the manner they see fit. However, it does not follow that the absence of penalties in a particular State for marijuana use in these circumstances “legalizes” conduct that remains clearly illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. Moreover, this issue is not only one of legal form; it also is a compelling problem of public health and safety. Smoked marijuana has not been approved for use
under the rigorous Federal drug approval process conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), which prohibits drugs from being sold or distributed in interstate commerce as medicine unless they have been proven in sound clinical studies to be both safe and effective for their intended use. To date, no sound scientific study has shown that smoking marijuana is safe and effective for any disease or condition. The Institute of Medicine has concluded that “[t]here is little future in smoked marijuana as a medically approved medication,” and the British Medical Association linked its use to greater risk of heart disease, lung cancer, bronchitis, and emphysema. The DEA, in conjunction with the FDA, has approved and will continue to approve research into whether discrete ingredients of marijuana can be adapted for medical use. However, with respect to smoked marijuana, the clear weight of evidence is that it is not medicine–it is harmful.
Finally, any amendment that would restrict enforcement and prosecution in certain specifically named States, but not in others, would prevent the Department of Justice from uniformly enforcing the law throughout the United States. As a practical matter, residents of States listed in such an amendment would be exempted from Federal enforcement and persecution for cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana in certain circumstances, while residents of other States would continue to face potential criminal liability for precisely the same conduct. We also note that the amendment would effectively establish a classification among residents of different States with respect to the enforcement of the Federal drug laws. Consequently, Federal persecution of persons in non-covered States for marijuana-related drug violations potentially could be subject to challenge under the equal protection requirements of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, particularly in States that may enact future medical marijuana laws that are not covered by the language of this provision.
Again, the Department of Justice opposes any amendment restricting enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act. We appreciate your continued support of our efforts to continue meeting the goals of the President’s strategy to reduce youth drug use in America.
If we may be of further assistance in this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us. The Office of Management and Budget has advised that there is no objection to this report from the standpoint of the Administration’s program.
William E. Moschella,
Assistant Attorney General.
Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of this amendment offered by my colleagues SAM FARR, DANA ROHRABACHER, MAURICE HINCHEY, AND RON PAUL, and I salute their courage in bringing it to the House floor.
This amendment to the Fiscal Year 2005 Commerce, Justice, State, and Judiciary Appropriations bill would prohibit the Justice Department from spending any funds to undermine state medical marijuana laws. It would leave to the discretion of the states how they would alleviate the suffering of their citizens.
Eleven states, including my home state of California, have adopted medical marijuana laws since 1996. Most of these laws were approved by a vote of the people. More than 70 percent of Americans support the right of patients to use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.
I am pleased to join organizations that support legal access to medical marijuana, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Bar Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Public Health Association, and the AIDS Action Council.
Religious denominations supporting legal access to medical marijuana or state discretion on this issue include the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the National Council of Churches, the National Progressive Baptist Convention, the Presbyterian Church, the Union for Reform Judaism, the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the United Methodist Church.
Proven medicinal uses of marijuana include improving the quality of life for patient with cancer, multiple sclerosis, and other severe medical conditions.
In my city of San Francisco, we have lost nearly 20,000 people to AIDS over the last two decades, and I have seen firsthand the suffering that accompanies this awful disease. Medical marijuana alleviates some of the most debilitating symptoms of AIDS, including pain, wasting, and nausea.
In 1999, the Institute of Medicine issued a report that had been commissioned by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The study found that medical marijuana “would be advantageous” in the treatment of some diseases, and is “potentially effective in treatment pain, nausea, and anorexia of AIDS wasting and other symptoms.”
To fight the war on drug abuse effectively, we must get our priorities in order and fund treatment and education. Making criminals of seriously ill people who seek proven therapy is not a step toward controlling America’s drug problem.
Again, I commend Mr. FARR, Mr. ROHRABACHER, Mr. HINCHEY, and Mr. PAUL for their leadership on this issue, which affects the health and well-being of so many Americans.
Mr. KUCINICH. Mr. Chairman, I rise to support the Farr/Rohrabacher/Hinchey amendment, which will end federal raids on medical marijuana patients and providers in states where medical marijuana is legal.
Despite marijuana’s recognized therapeutic value, including a National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine report recommending its use in certain circumstances, federal law refuses to recognize its medicinal importance and safety. Instead, federal penalties for all marijuana use, regardless of purpose, includes up to a year in prison for the possession of even small amounts.
But since 1996, eight states have enacted laws to allow very ill patients to use medical marijuana in spite of federal law. The present administration, however has sought to override such state statutes, viewing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in the same light as the use of heroin or cocaine. In 2002, federal agents raided the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana or WAMM, an organization that under California state law legally dispensed marijuana to patients whose doctors had recommended it for pain and suffering. Eighty-five percent of WAMM’s 225 members were terminally ill with cancer or AIDS.
The federal government should use its power to help terminally ill citizens, not arrest them. And states deserve to have the right to make their own decisions regarding the use of medical marijuana. I strongly urge my colleagues to support this amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. All time has expired on this amendment. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from California (Mr. Farr).
The question was taken; and the Chairman announced that the noes appeared to have it.
Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote