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Public Statements

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. NADLER. Mr. Chairman, I want to congratulate and thank the sponsors of this amendment for introducing it. The amendment begins to break down the taboo in American politics about discussing drug policy intelligently. It also begins to, hopefully, result in the Federal Government having a more humane and human policy on medical marijuana.

I heard the gentleman from Virginia say that the DEA says there is no medical use for marijuana. That's true that they've said it. The DEA has no credibility with people who have looked at this--on this subject, on most subjects with respect to drugs these days. One reason there is no proof of the successful medical use of marijuana is that the DEA systematically tries to make sure there is no adequate research on that, and it denies the use of supplies of marijuana for medical research.

But we have ample proof from the 16 States which have legalized the medical use of marijuana. We have ample anecdotal proof. We know that, for people suffering pain, for people suffering nausea from AIDS and cancer, marijuana is the only thing that produces relief and enables them to eat and to get sustenance and to regain weight and to, perhaps, regain health. We know this. We know this from thousands of cases. The DEA doesn't know it because it refuses to see it and refuses to allow systematic research. That's wrong. It's inhumane.

Now, I wish this amendment didn't specify the 16 States because maybe a 17th and an 18th will come along this year. I hope that they will. Certainly, the Federal Government has a better use for its resources than in trying to prevent the policy that 16 States have adopted, the humane policy of allowing the medical use of something that has been proven to be medically useful in many cases. Doctors and other medical professionals ought to determine treatment, not bureaucrats in Washington.

So I support this amendment, and I hope that maybe, if it passes, and maybe if we have a rational policy with regard to medical marijuana, that two other things will happen: that maybe the DEA will get its head out of the sand and will permit proper research so we'll get better research and better results; and maybe we'll begin a discussion of our general drug policy toward marijuana, which is certainly a much, much more benign drug than alcohol, which is legal, than tobacco, which is legal. We have a very irrational policy toward it, a policy which reminds one of the policy of the 1920s, which had such deleterious effects with regard to alcohol and alcohol use.

So I congratulate the sponsor of this amendment for having the courage to help break the taboos concerning this subject and for introducing an amendment that, if it passes, will result in many, many thousands of people being more healthful and more comfortable, and it will be a great thing for this country.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, I had anticipated and we had been told that the gentleman was going to offer an amendment that said none of the funds in this Act may be used by the Justice Department to argue for the Defense of Marriage Act in court. And I was going to object on the same grounds that I have in some other such amendments earlier day--that we should not be politicizing the Justice Department. We should not be telling them: Do defend this in court; don't defend that in court.

But as the gentleman from Massachusetts says, this amendment seems to do nothing at all. None of the funds made available under this act may be used in contravention of the Defense of Marriage Act. Well, none of the funds are being use in contravention of the Defense of Marriage Act. The only circumstance I can envision under which funds might be used in contravention of the Defense of Marriage Act would be after the Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. If the Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, then the Constitution frankly would demand under the equal protection clause that funds be spent against the will of what had been the Defense of Marriage Act.

If the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, then someone who is married under the laws of some State that permits same-sex marriage will demand to have joint filing of income taxes or demand the tax benefits that a spouse gets, and it would be unconstitutional not to grant that.

So this amendment is frankly silly and shouldn't clutter the statute books because until and unless the Defense of Marriage Act is declared unconstitutional, it means nothing. And once the Defense of Marriage Act is declared unconstitutional, if it is, then this itself would be unconstitutional as against the equal protection clause.

So I urge people to vote against it because, one, we shouldn't pass meaningless statutes, which this is or would be, unless DOMA is declared unconstitutional. And we shouldn't pass clearly unconstitutional statutes which this would be if DOMA is declared unconstitutional. So it is either meaningless and unnecessary in the one case or unconstitutional in the other and, frankly, ought to be withdrawn, but certainly should not be voted for; and so I urge my colleagues not to vote for this, whatever you think of DOMA, frankly. Because if DOMA is declared unconstitutional, this would be unconstitutional; and if it's not, it's unnecessary and has no effect in any event. So I don't know what the point of wasting our time with it is, but we should oppose it.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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