AMENDMENT OFFERED BY MR. HINCHEY
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
Amendment offered by Mr. Hinchey:
Page 108, after line 7, insert 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, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, or Washington from implementing State laws authorizing the use of medical marijuana in those States.
The CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to the order of the House of June 14, the gentleman from New York (Mr. Hinchey) and the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wolf) each will control 15 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New York (Mr. Hinchey).
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
This amendment would prohibit funds for the Department of Justice from being used to prevent patients in States that have medical marijuana laws from following those laws.
Over the past 9 years, 10 States have adopted laws which allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. They legalized the use of marijuana to relieve the intense pain that accompanies debilitating diseases, including AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and glaucoma. With the exceptions of Hawaii and Vermont, all of those laws were adopted by referendum, passed by the people.
Thousands of patients have testified, explained, and acknowledged that marijuana helps relieve symptoms, such as nausea, pain, and loss of appetite associated with serious illnesses. These people have found that marijuana is the only remedy that improves their quality of life. Yet the DEA has been targeting these people for arrest and sending them to jail. This needs to stop.
It is unconscionable that we in Congress could possibly presume to tell a patient that he or she cannot use the only medication that has proven to combat the pain and symptoms associated with a devastating illness. How can we tell very sick people that they cannot have the drug that could save their lives simply because of a narrow ideology and bias against that drug in this Congress?
A 1999 Institute of Medicine report for the National Academy of Sciences described the legitimate use of medical marijuana. It stated: “Until a nonsmoked rapid-onset cannabinoid drug delivery system becomes available, we acknowledge that there is no clear alternative for people suffering from chronic conditions that might be relieved by smoking marijuana. Today there is no such alternative available.”
This amendment would affect only the States that allow the use of medical marijuana by preventing the Justice Department from arresting, prosecuting, suing, or otherwise discouraging doctors and patients in those States from following the laws of those States to relieve their physical injuries and conditions.
In the Supreme Court’s majority opinion last week, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the issue can be addressed “through the democratic process, in which the voices of voters allied with these respondents may one day be heard in the halls of Congress.” With this amendment, we intend to use the powers granted us in the Constitution and reaffirmed by the Supreme Court last week to do just that.
Opponents of this amendment have tried to misrepresent it. This amendment does not encourage the recreational use of marijuana. It does not encourage drug use in children. It does not legalize marijuana. It would give relief to people suffering from horrific diseases and allow their doctors to decide which drugs will work best to do so. Organizations including the Nation’s largest medical organization, the 2.7 million member American Nurses Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the New York State Medical Society, among others, have publicly endorsed the medical use of marijuana.
Our amendment is about compassion, in allowing patients the simple right of using the most effective medicine possible. Taxpayers’ dollars should not be spent on sending seriously or terminally ill patients to jail. A vote for this amendment is a vote for States rights and for compassion. Ten States have decided to use medical marijuana in their laws. The Federal Government should not stand in their way.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. WOLF. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Peterson).
Mr. PETERSON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Chairman, I rise to oppose this amendment. Marijuana is not a harmless drug. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, the American Medical Association and other science-based research institutes have documented the substantial risks of using marijuana. The FDA, on the other hand, has already approved Marinol, which contains THC, a derivative of the active chemical in marijuana, totally undermining claims that there is any need for medical marijuana.
If passed, this amendment would open the door for drug dealers to use medical marijuana exemptions as cover for their growing and selling operations. Up until recently, no adequate testing had been done in this country on the devastating effects of marijuana use. If only the young people of America knew of the study that just has been released recently that marijuana use curtails the development of the brain. We have very young people in this country using marijuana, and marijuana curtails the growth of our brain, and our brain is not mature until we are 25 years of age. Anything we do that encourages young people to use marijuana will have a devastating impact on their mental capacity.
I speak with a little experience on this. I have some friends who grew up when marijuana was the hot issue, and some of the brightest young people I knew became somewhat dull and have remained that way all of their life because the recent study proves that
marijuana use curtails the growth and development of the brain.
I have never had a physician tell me that it was needed in his portfolio to treat medical diseases and pain. I have never had a physician, and I have been in the health care field, in the legislative process, for 20 some years.
Medical marijuana is not something that is needed in this country. It is a drug that stops the development of the brains in our youth, and it should not become legal in any way, in my view.
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank).
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Chairman, I will not contest the gentleman from Pennsylvania on the intellectual level of some of his companions, but on other issues, I very much disagree with what he has had to say.
As to its relevance, yes, marijuana is and can be a drug with serious adverse consequences. So is OxyContin. So are many other substances that can only be legally administered by a physician with a prescription.
This is not a bill to make marijuana generally available. It is not a bill to put it in baby formula. It says, what is the rationale for singling out marijuana and saying that no doctor in no State can prescribe that even if that doctor feels that is the only way or the most effective way to alleviate pain? And I say most effective.
I would have hoped we would have learned something about trying to practice medicine here. They released today the autopsy, sadly, in that tragic case of Terri Schiavo. Apparently, according to the autopsy, not only was she in a persistent vegetative state, she was blind. The fact is that we had people on the floor of this House a few months ago directly controverting what we now know to be the medical facts.
Let us not do that again. Let us not say that we will decide on a political basis at the national level that no State is competent to regulate the practice of medicine in that State if they decide to allow a doctor to prescribe marijuana, because that is what we are talking about. The regulation of medicine has been a State function. Some States have decided to allow their doctors to prescribe marijuana. This has got a double safeguard. The State has to decide to do it, and then a physician has to decide to do it.
If there are physicians that you think are misusing this, and there are with substances. Rush Limbaugh got into trouble with OxyContin. That does not mean because something can be legally prescribed that you look away when it has been illegally used.
So let us treat marijuana the way we treat many, many other substances with far more impact on individuals. Let us leave this to the States and leave it to the doctors, and let us stop this practice, which I have commented on before, where most of us are not doctors, but try to play them on C-SPAN.
Mr. WOLF. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. King).
Mr. KING of Iowa. I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
Mr. Chairman, I serve on the Judiciary Committee where we look at these types of issues. I appreciate the support of the gentleman from Virginia on this cause.
As I listened to the gentleman from Massachusetts make the allegation that no doctor in no State shall prescribe medicinal marijuana, I acknowledge the statement, and the implication at least was that this is new legal ground that we are plowing here. But, in fact, the FDA says no doctor in no State shall prescribe a pharmaceutical or medicine that is not approved by the FDA. That is why we had this major debate in this Congress here a year or so ago with regard to the reimportation of drugs.
So it is not new ground. It is old ground. It is old ground, and we know the cause, and we know what the driving force is behind this. It is seeking to get the camel’s nose under the tent, seeking to establish a very small sliver of marijuana so that eventually the people that are behind this, that want to legalize marijuana in their individual States and across this country, can drive that wedge in and eventually be able to legalize this substance that has not been supported by any branch of medicine that I can identify. The American Medical Association, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Glaucoma Society, Academy of Ophthalmology, Cancer Society all have rejected marijuana for medical purposes.
What we have here is an initiative that is designed to advance a social agenda, the social agenda of the people that want to legalize marijuana. And, in fact, if we do that, we are going to see it planted in more places around this country, not less, and more accessible to more people, and this society will be more replete with the abuse of this hallucinogenic drug, a gateway drug that reduces the productivity of the American people and causes more people to get on to serious drugs, such as methamphetamines, heroin, cocaine, et cetera.
I urge a “no” vote on this amendment.
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished gentlewoman from California (Ms. Pelosi).
Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from New York for yielding me this time, and I thank him for his leadership, he and the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher), for bringing this important bipartisan initiative to the floor. What we are discussing today is compassion, and that is a bipartisan value. I am grateful for their leadership on this issue that is critical to many in my district and across the country who are suffering from debilitating illnesses and to those who care for them.
Before I proceed with my comments, though, I want to acknowledge the tremendous leadership of the Chair of this subcommittee of appropriations, the subcommittee that has such a long name now, but we all know it is the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wolf). He knows, and every chance I get, I want to tell others, of the high regard that I have for him. It is a privilege to call him colleague and to serve with him in the Congress of the United States. Again, every chance I get, I want to acknowledge his tremendous leadership, especially for respecting the human rights of every person on the face of the Earth.
I thank the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wolf), the gentleman from New York (Mr. Serrano) and the gentleman from West Virginia (Mr. Mollohan) as well for their leadership on this important subcommittee.
This amendment, Mr. Chairman, is especially timely coming on the heels of the Supreme Court decision last week. The Court’s decision makes clear that Federal regulatory and statutory changes are needed. For that reason, I strongly support the proposed legislation of the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank) that would change Federal laws to permit medical marijuana pursuant to State law. Make sure you know that what we are talking about here is in regard to States passing their own laws or initiatives and what would happen in this initiative, which is needed because we do not have a Federal law to respect States’ rights specifically in terms of medicinal marijuana.
This amendment is necessary because it 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 suffering of their citizens. This is a States rights issue. I have been a longstanding advocate for allowing States to make medical marijuana available to patients under a doctor’s recommendation to alleviate painful suffering. A doctor’s prescription is needed for a substance that is not otherwise legal. Doctors write prescriptions every day for that purpose, and they should be able to do so if their States allow it in the case of medical marijuana.
In my district in San Francisco, we have lost more than 20,000 people to AIDS over the last two decades. Twenty thousand people. I have seen firsthand at the bedsides of these patients the suffering that accompanies this dreadful disease. Medical marijuana alleviates some of the most debilitating symptoms of AIDS, including pain, wasting syndrome and nausea. It is not confined to AIDS, but also cancer and so many examples that our colleagues will point out. This is just the compassionate way to go.
The previous speaker says he knows of no scientific or medical institution that has said anything positive about this. I beg to differ. The fact is this has
been supported by science. 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 treating pain. Medical journals and other recent articles attest to the fact that active components in medical marijuana inhibit pain. Other proven medicinal uses of marijuana include improving the quality of life, as I mentioned before, for patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis and other severe medical conditions. That is why many medical associations support legal access to medical marijuana, again, if the State allows it with a doctor’s prescription, including the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Nurses Association, the American Public Health Association and the AIDS Action Council.
In addition, more than 10 States, including my own State of California, have adopted these laws since 1996. Most of these laws were approved by a vote of the people. Numerous polls indicate that three-quarters of the American people support the right of patients to use marijuana with a doctor’s prescription. A recent AARP poll showed that 92 percent of America’s seniors support the use of medicinal marijuana with a doctor’s prescription in the States where it is allowed.
Religious denominations also support legal access to medical marijuana, including 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.
We must not make criminals of criminally ill people. Excuse me. We must not make criminals of seriously ill people. My slip of the tongue may tell the tale. It is not a crime to be ill. If we need to have access to pain relief, the people who seek this therapy should be able to receive it. It is long past time to base our policies on science and not on misguided politics. The Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment affects the health and well-being of so many Americans, and I urge my colleagues to vote for it.
I also want to commend again the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher) and the gentleman from New York (Mr. Hinchey) for their courage in bringing this important bipartisan, compassionate legislation to the floor.
Mr. WOLF. Mr. Chairman, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder), who has been a leader on this issue.
(Mr. SOUDER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. SOUDER. I thank the gentleman for his leadership.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to this promarijuana amendment. It has little, little to do with compassion. It is hiding behind a few sick people to try to, in effect, legalize, back door, marijuana in this country.
This amendment would prohibit the Department of Justice from enforcing Federal drug laws against anyone hiding behind a State medical marijuana statute. If passed, this amendment would put people in danger of shysters and quacks willing to recommend a dangerous drug, marijuana, in place of federally approved safe and proven medicines. You can get Marinol. We have got other ways by taking a pill to treat this. There are multiple chemicals in marijuana. It is not medicine. Marijuana is just as much medicine as the carbolic smoke ball from the late 19th century was medicine.
The carbolic smoke ball promised in this ad we can see promised to cure everything from asthma to sore eyes to diphtheria. Consumers were told to smoke the carbolic smoke ball three times a day for what ailed them. Similarly, snake-oil salesmen promised through their quackery that their product could cure all aches and pains.
This is why we passed the Food and Drug Act. That is why we have an FDA, to protect consumers from the nostrums of the day. Congress acted responsibly in protecting this country from fraudulent claims of nostrum sellers and from using unsafe drugs from being taken by sick or afflicted consumers. Do the Members think these people were not sick and these people did not want to be cured? But they were sold products that, in fact, could not deliver. They made them drunk just like marijuana makes one high. What they do is isolate the chemicals inside to treat the disease.
One does not smoke pot. I have told this body several times before about Irma Perez, but many seem to have a short memory about this. The rhetoric about marijuana as a “treatment” for medical purposes, which probably was dreamed up at some college dorm, was a factor in the death of Irma Perez. She was 14 years old. She heard all this talk about medical marijuana even on the floors of Congress, and she was suffering from an Ecstasy overdose. And her friends gave her marijuana, thinking it was medical instead of getting her a doctor. A medical examiner said that had she received real medical attention rather than so-called medical marijuana, Irma Perez would still be alive.
There is a reason that marijuana is illegal, a Schedule I controlled substance. It has not met the rigorous approval process of the FDA. In fact, nearly 60 percent of people in drug treatment in America are in treatment for marijuana. Marijuana has never been proven safe and effective for any disease. To the contrary, it has been linked to a greater risk of heart disease, lung cancer, bronchitis, and emphysema. The Office of National Drug Control Policy notes evidence that marijuana can increase the risk of serious mental health problems, and in teens marijuana can lead to depression, thoughts of suicide, and schizophrenia.
There is a cost to Members of Congress standing up here and pretending that this is medical. This is not safe medicine. It is not safe and effective. It is dangerous. It contains more than 400 chemicals. Moreover, we know from survey data that so-called medical marijuana is not used for medicinal purposes except in very few cases, but for recreational and emotional reasons. One single doctor in Oregon wrote more than 4,000 prescriptions for people to use marijuana. His medical license was finally suspended last year for his failure to provide proper examinations or oversight of this so-called “treatment.”
We have marijuana coffee houses proliferating in these States that are supposedly for cancer patients. There are people growing tens of hundreds of acres and putting medical marijuana in front of it and hiding and saying “we are helping cancer patients,” which is not true.
Finally, pro-marijuana advocates exploit the stories of people who are suffering from real pain or illness as a wedge for their pro-drug agenda, claiming that marijuana is necessary to alleviate their pain. It is simply not proven, not true, and becoming less true every single year for even the exceptional case.
The good news is that Marinol, a synthetic version of marijuana’s derivative THC, has been approved by FDA as medication for appropriate treatment by prescription. Marinol has met the rigorous standard for “safe and effective” that is required for all drugs. It will be great for cancer patients and is working now in all of them. Originally, Members got on this floor and said it could not stop vomiting. It does.
The bad news is that proponents of medical marijuana are perpetrating a fraud on the public by claiming that home-grown weed, pot, reefer, marijuana, or whatever one wants to call it, should be used as medicine. Medical marijuana is a ruse. Marijuana is a dangerous and illicit drug, period.
I urge my colleagues to vote against this amendment.
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher).
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of this amendment. I rise in support of the separation of powers as established by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution. The Constitution clearly delegates the power to deal with criminal matters, like the use of drugs, to the States.
I agree with my colleagues, even the one who just preceded me, that marijuana is probably a dangerous drug, and I would not suggest that we do
anything to encourage its use. Certainly the war on drugs has not eliminated that choice for our young people one iota. Our approach at supply rather than looking at demand has not been successful. But, most importantly, this drug, which may be harmful, reflects many other drugs that may well be harmful, but that we have decided as a society should be permitted to be prescribed by doctors whom we have empowered to make such prescriptions to people who are suffering from illnesses. There are many drugs that have many serious side effects and that are harmful to people. Marijuana is no different than that. And especially we should try to discourage young people from using marijuana.
But simply to override all of the powers of the people of the States of this Union to determine that decision and to override criminal matters that have been decided by the people of States is unconstitutional. The fact is our Founding Fathers wanted these issues to be determined in the States. All this decision we are making today is, should we use Federal money and use Federal resources to override the wishes of the people of the States who have voted, and in my State there was a referendum which won handily, on this issue. And the issue is that they have a right to decide at the State level should a doctor be able to prescribe marijuana to someone who is suffering, a cancer victim, an AIDS victim, or whatever. This makes all the sense in the world.
Let us not have a power grab by the Federal Government at the expense of these poor patients and the right of doctors to make these decisions and not politicians.
Mr. WOLF. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 1 1/2 minutes.
I rise in opposition to the amendment. Not only does the amendment hurt law enforcement’s efforts to combat drug trafficking, but it really sends the wrong message to our children. Marijuana is the most abused drug in the United States. According to the ONDCP and the DEA, more young people are now in treatment for marijuana dependency than for alcohol or all other illegal drugs.
Mr. Chairman, if I could just read that one more time: according to the ONDCP and the DEA, more young people are now in treatment for marijuana dependency than for alcohol or for all other illegal drugs.
This amendment does not address the problem of marijuana abuse, and I know and I want to stipulate that it is not the intention of the authors, but it possibly makes it worse by sending the message to young people that there are going to be health benefits for smoking marijuana. I think it is confusing to young people for the Congress to do that. I understand what the authors of the amendment are trying to do, but it would be confusing and I think the wrong message.
Last year, this amendment failed by a vote of 148 to 268, and I urge rejection of the amendment.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from California (Mr. Farr), a sponsor of this amendment.
Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
I stand as a Member from California, which has had a law for almost 10 years now allowing the medical prescription use of marijuana for alleviating pain. It has not been a problem in California. It does not legalize drugs. It does not get drugs into the hands of kids. That law is enforced. Drug laws in California are strictly enforced by local law enforcement. But local law enforcement also supports in my community this use of pain relief.
I mean, this issue is about doctors and patients, doctors who prescribe for pain. They can have all kinds of alternatives prescribed. In some cases, this is the way that pain is best relieved. So what we are asking is that no money be spent to enforce the laws in those States that have been working. The Supreme Court did not strike down those laws. They did not say they were illegal. This is the ability of whether Congress is going to now step in and require those 10 States that have practices in place that are alleviating pain that they can no longer do that.
Do not allow the Federal Government to bust old ladies who are suffering from pain and have a prescription for relief.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Hinchey amendment and am proud to be a cosponsor of that amendment.
Oppenents of this amendment would want you to believe that this amendment is all about legalizing pot, or about unfettered access to street drugs, or about creating a generation of drug addicts.
They know it’s not and their exaggeration won’t change the facts.
The facts are–
This amendment is about States rights and the ultimate right of the citizens to empower their government through the democratic process.
This amendment is about health care, under a doctor’s prescription and direction.
This amendment is about compassion and caring for persons who suffer from chronic pain and/or terminal illnesses.
This amendment is not about legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana.
This amendment is not about unfettered marijuana growth, distribution or usage. It is about regulated, controlled access.
My friends across the aisle seem to forget that this body, this House of Representatives gets its power from the people. In the United States the people empower their government, not the reverse.
In this country the people have the right to tell government how to govern.
In this country the people have the right to petition their government for change.
And when that happens, this government, this House of Representatives, has an obligation to respond.
When Americans called for an end to discrimination, we had an obligation to pass the Civil Rights Act.
When Americans called for fairness to persons with disabilities, we had an obligation to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Ten states and millions of American citizens have voted to make it the law in their states that marijuana is available through prescriptions for health care purposes.
They are asking us–their representatives in Congress–to change the law to make it so. We have an obligation to respond.
The Hinchey amendment is the responsible thing to do. It is the right thing to do.
I urge everyone to vote “yes” on the Hinchey amendment.
Mr. WOLF. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from California (Mr. Gallegly).
(Mr. GALLEGLY asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. GALLEGLY. Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to vote against this amendment.
Marijuana is not a therapeutic drug. It is a harmful drug. Proponents of medical marijuana claim that drugs help alleviate pain, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite for the terminally ill. But these alleged benefits are rejected by medical authorities. The American Medical Association, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the American Glaucoma Society, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the American Cancer Society, however, have all rejected the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Further, smoking pot is physically harmful. Smoking pot delivers three to five times the amount of tar and carbon monoxide as cigarettes. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, studies show that someone who smokes five joints per week may be taking in as much cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes every day. Smoking pot is not helpful; it is harmful.
I urge my colleagues to vote against this amendment.
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Woolsey).
Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Chairman, like my constituents, I believe that doctors should be permitted to prescribe marijuana for patients suffering debilitating diseases like cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, spastic disorders, and many more. We want the Federal Government to get out of our way because our State of California passed Proposition 215 in 1996, allowing for the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
The Members should know that my mother suffered from glaucoma and marijuana relieved her tremendously. In fact, her favorite Christmas present was a tin of marijuana. She is gone now, but I am certain that I speak for her today in asking that those who suffer from these debilitating diseases get help and can use marijuana if that help works. We want the Justice Department to stop punishing those who are
[Page: H4523] abiding by their State laws. Join me in supporting this important amendment.
Mr. WOLF. Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. Blumenauer).
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I am sorry that the debate on this issue is so limited. The gentleman from California (Mr. Farr) was unable to present the evidence that the teen use of marijuana, since the approval by the State of California, has gone down. And I would put this in the RECORD.
This is an opportunity for us to clarify that the 10 States, including my State of Oregon, which was approved by the voters, have the right to make sure that the 10,000 people who are using medical marijuana under the supervision of 1,700 doctors have that right. It is outrageous that the Federal Government would intervene over the rights of States like mine, like Arizona, like California where people are taking these steps. It is a sorry continuation of attempts by this Congress to try to criminalize Oregon’s Death with Dignity law, the only State in the Union with end-of-life protection, and the sorry spectacle we had here on the floor where Congress was intervening with the Terry Schiavo family.
I strongly urge the approval of this amendment.
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Kucinich).
Mr. KUCINICH. Mr. Chairman, this amendment extends the protections already provided at the State level in 10 States to the Federal level. It ensures that critically ill patients can find relief from nausea and pain without worrying that the Federal Government will prosecute them. The Federal Government should use its power to help terminally ill citizens, not arrest them.
Compassion ought to require us that we look at what we are doing here in this debate, trying to raise marijuana to the level of some kind of bogeyman when you have people who are suffering from terminal illness, and we are saying they should not be provided relief from pain.
What are we talking about in this Congress? Where is our compassion? Where is our understanding of what families go through when someone is suffering from a terminal illness, when people are looking for relief from pain? We are going to deny that to them because of some shibboleth about marijuana?
Let us get real. Let us support the Hinchey amendment.
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. DeFazio).
Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Chairman, are we for States rights or not? I often hear from that side of the aisle we are for States rights. I guess we are for States rights until we disagree with policies adopted by a State.
My State and nine other States have by large margins adopted the right of people in a regulated way through physician prescription to receive medical marijuana for certain conditions for which there are few other effective or no other effective treatments. Plain and simple.
It is not about legalization. You say, well, do not cripple law enforcement. Do we want to divert our limited law enforcement resources, who cannot give me a permanent DEA agent to help with the meth epidemic in the rural areas of any district, into chasing around old, sick people growing marijuana? I do not think so. That is not helping law enforcement with their mission.
Let us focus them on things that are a real threat to the American people, not on issues that have been decided by the people of the various States that this is something that should be made available in a compassionate way to help a few people.
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Lofgren).
Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California. Mr. Chairman, I oppose legalizing marijuana, but I support this amendment. Just like the other voters in California, I do not see why we should prohibit doctors from providing for pain relief for their patients.
I will talk to you about someone I knew. I will call him Mr. X. He had terminal cancer, and he could not eat, and the only thing that could get him an appetite was marijuana. Mr. X, who was my age, had to go out and buy marijuana illegally. It was so horrible for him.
Why should we force the indignity on terminal cancer patients of having to do that? That is why my State voted to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana, so that cancer patients who cannot eat have the chance to get some nutrition. For the life of me, I cannot understand why we would interfere with that, and I strongly, strongly urge, on behalf of all cancer patients, please support this amendment.
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield 30 seconds to the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee).
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I rise to support the amendment. I ask respect for those who oppose this amendment, but I ask respect, kindness and love for those suffering with cancer. There is not a family in America that is not touched by this devastating disease.
Allow the Hinchey amendment to go forward, so there can be healing and comfort for those dying of an enormously devastating disease. That is all we ask for, and, of course, the protection of the 10th amendment, that allows States to govern the laws of their particular jurisdiction, to protect the people of their State. Support the Hinchey amendment.
I rise today in support of the Hinchey Medical Marijuana amendment. According to the Mayo Clinic, marijuana has been used as a medical treatment for thousands of years. Further, the use of marijuana for medical purposes has been proven to be beneficial in the treatment of glaucoma, cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and chronic pain.
Despite various studies and reports by medical experts, the U.S. Supreme Court, on Monday of last week, handed down its rule which would allow sick patients who rely on marijuana to relieve pain or to help with their medical conditions to be prosecuted under Federal law even if their home State allows use of the drug for such medical purposes. The 6-3 decision came as a setback to the medical marijuana movement, but it does not change the laws of the 10 States that allow patients to use the drug to ease symptoms. Needless to say, I am very disappointed with the Court’s decision.
To this end, I strongly support the Hinchey amendment. This amendment would prohibit the Justice Department from preventing States that have passed medical marijuana laws from implementing them. Currently ten States have adopted laws that allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. These laws were passed to allow the use of marijuana to relieve the intense pain and other symptoms that accompany several debilitating diseases, including aids, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and glaucoma. The DEA has conducted numerous raids on the homes of medical marijuana users, prosecuting patients who were using marijuana, in accordance with State laws, to relieve this pain.
Before closing, it is important to note that the Hinchey amendment will not change marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I narcotic, require States to adopt medical marijuana laws, stop law enforcement officials from prosecuting the illegal use of marijuana, encourage drug use in children, and legalize marijuana or other drugs.
I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.
Mr. Chairman, let me just say in closing that the opposition to this amendment today on the floor has presented 19th century arguments for a 21st century problem.
We have people in this country who are suffering the debilitating pain that comes from cancer and chemotherapy. No relief is available to them except by association with cannabinoids. That association should be allowed under a doctor’s prescription. That condition exists now in 10 States across this country. This Congress says to those 10 States, I am sorry, but you cannot do it. We are intervening.
That should stop. This Congress should not be about inducing pain, encouraging pain. This Congress should be about relieving pain in the American people. This Congress should be about enlightened medication and an enlightened health care delivery system, not one based upon 19th century prejudices, biases and a narrow ideology.
Let us pass this amendment. Let us be sensible, creative, decent and caring
for the American people. Let us pass this amendment.
Mr. WOLF. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Chairman, let me just respond to what the gentleman said about this “narrow ideology.” My mom died of cancer, my father died of cancer, there have been many people in my family on my mother’s side who died of cancer. I, at one time, supported this and changed my vote in the Congress because I have seen the devastation that drugs can have on young people, the devastation that it is doing to many people.
So people can have differences of opinion. But when the gentleman uses these inflammatory rhetoric of “narrow ideology,” it is like all truth is on their side, I think that is really the wrong tone. This is a serious issue. There are good and decent people on both sides. But I think the gentleman’s tone and comments were really not exactly accurate.
I care as much about this issue, and I care as much about suffering and pain as the gentleman. I stood with my mom when she died and with my father when he died.
Mr. Chairman, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder).
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Indiana is recognized for 2 1/2 minutes.
Mr. SOUDER. Mr. Chairman, let me state that my mother and father-in-law both recently died of cancer as well.
Compassion is not limited to either side, but there is science and there is not science. In fact, the Carbolic Smoke Balls and the snake oil is very similar; getting high is the same as getting splashed.
There are, in fact, medical solutions to what has been talked about today. Serostim deals with wasting in AIDS, as does Megestrol, and they have been found by FDA to treat the very things they claim that you want treated today. You do not get high in the process, but your pain is relieved. Marinol treats the vomiting questions and other questions. It isolates the substances in it. There are 200 chemicals in marijuana. One gets you high, but other parts actually can be isolated just like in other things.
Furthermore, we have heard kind of a silly argument here on the House floor today that physicians should be making up FDA law. Physicians do not do trials of different drugs when they come to market. Physicians do not have big testing agencies. That is why we have a Food and Drug Administration. This is in effect asking to repeal the Food and Drug Administration.
Then we have kind of a very interesting legal argument going on here, not whether States have rights, but when the Federal Government has ruled, can States nullify a Federal law? The Supreme Court has always ruled unanimously that they do not, ever since the Civil War. We fought a war over nullification.
We do not believe in States rights on civil rights questions and others. When the Federal Government rules, the Court is unanimous. The split decision the other week was best explained by Justice Scalia for the majority, who said that you cannot have intrastate and interstate definitions when you are dealing with marijuana.
These huge marijuana plantations that are growing in the State of California, which, by the way, there is no limitation on doctors to cancer patients. We had one testify in our committee who gave so-called medical marijuana to teenagers for ADD, that doctors prescribe it for fingernail pain.
There is not this restriction on cancer. It is a bogus debate. California does not have that restriction. These huge marijuana plantations, nobody is going after individual doctors except in a test case where somebody wants to do it. We are going after the people prescribing to thousands of people, to the coffee shops that are proliferating in these States where the people were sold a bill of goods that they were working with cancer patients, and instead now they see the proliferation of coffee houses, they see the proliferation of marijuana plantations, with signs up in front of them saying, “This is all for medical purposes.”
We in Congress have a responsibility to lead in this country, not to buy into college dormitory-type thoughts of “wouldn’t it be great if we called marijuana medical, and then we could smoke pot?”
That is why the vote has actually declined the last few years here in Congress, and after the Supreme Court ruling last week, I believe it will decline even further, because there is not an intrastate. Not only was it previously upheld on interstate, it has now been upheld on intrastate, with Scalia being one of the great conservatives who historically has stood up for States rights explaining the difference very clearly.
I hope Members will join with the chairman in voting down this amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from New York (Mr. Hinchey).
The question was taken; and the Chairman announced that the noes appeared to have it.
Mr. HINCHEY. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.