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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. LEE of California. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of this bipartisan amendment. I want to thank Mr. Rohrabacher and all of the cosponsors of this amendment for their leadership and for bringing this amendment forward.

This amendment would prohibit the Department of Justice from using Federal funds to prevent the implementation of State laws authorizing the use of medical marijuana.

In recent months, the Federal Government has stepped up raids on legally operating clinics in many States where it is permissible for seriously ill patients to be prescribed medical marijuana by their doctors. These raids are shutting down legally operating businesses and are putting the health and the well-being of patients with cancer, HIV and AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other serious illnesses in jeopardy.

Marijuana has proven medical uses that improve the quality of life and extend the lives of desperately ill people. By shutting down clinics, Federal agents are forcing patients who may be dying, for example, of cancer out into the streets to buy prescription drugs like narcotics, which oftentimes leads to prescription drug addiction. These raids also undermine the ability of States to faithfully implement the will of their voters.

The people in my home State of California have voted to make medical marijuana legal. These laws have been enacted to allow patients safe and legal access to appropriately produce and dispense medical marijuana in the safest possible environment. Yet in the last 18 months--for whatever reason--the Drug Enforcement Administration has raided and shut down many licensed and regulated dispensaries, which are legal, mind you, under State law. For example, the Berkeley Patients Group in my district, which had worked closely with the city of Berkeley to stay in compliance with local and State laws in order to serve critically ill patients in my community, has been forced to close its doors and turn their patients away. Complying with the State law and relying on a memorandum from the Department of Justice, thousands of small businesses across my State have invested millions in dollars in building their businesses, created good paying jobs, and have paid millions in taxes. The business owners in my home district are doing everything they can to comply with the law, but clinics in Oakland and Berkeley continue to be subject to raids by Federal authorities.

Many of my colleagues and I have made repeated requests to the Department of Justice to seek clarification regarding their enforcement policies on medical marijuana. Mr. Chair, this is about recognizing the will of the voters. The Federal crackdowns ignore the will of the voters in 16 States across the Nation. The clinics, doctors, and businesses, which bring medicine--medicine mind you--to suffering patients need clarity, certainty, and an end to arbitrary raids.

We should be protecting, not undermining, our democracy by prosecuting small business owners who pay taxes, comply with State laws, and provide medicine to people in need.

But really, and most importantly, it should be out of compassion for our fellow Americans suffering from a serious illness that compels us to vote for this amendment. It is the humane thing to do, and it is the right thing to do.

So I want to thank Mr. Rohrabacher once again and the cosponsors of this amendment for bringing this forward tonight, and I urge an ``aye'' vote.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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