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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Chairman, I rise today, along with Mr. Hinchey, Mr. McClintock, and Mr. Farr, in support of a commonsense amendment that would prohibit the Department of Justice from using funds to prevent States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana. This amendment would take a step in the right direction of respecting States' rights and individual liberties, and it would help the Federal Government prioritize its very scarce resources and show compassion for those thousands of ailing patients across our country.

To date, 17 States, including the District of Columbia, have passed laws allowing for the medical use of marijuana, and the list continues to grow. Connecticut is in the process of passing a similar law as well. Many of these State laws, including in my own home State of California, have passed these statutes through the initiative process--meaning that a majority of California voters specifically decided that sick individuals ought to have the right to use this herb for medical purposes. Why the Federal Government continues its hard-line prohibition, then, is completely beyond me.

As far as the medical marijuana is concerned, individuals ought to have a right and ought to be able to act in accordance with their respective State laws without the Federal Government coming in and interfering. Neither should the Federal Government threaten to prosecute State employees who are carrying out the implementation of their State laws. Indeed, the Founding Fathers wanted criminal law to be the domain of local and State government. Unfortunately, however, this is not the approach that recent administrations
have taken, including the current administration. For example, the Governor of Washington State received a letter from the Department of Justice and was warned that:

State employees who conducted activities mandated by the Washington legislative proposals would not be immune from liability under the CSA.

Additionally, the DEA has conducted numerous raids on medical marijuana dispensaries that are in full compliance with State law. Businesspeople and cooperatives who are licensed and certified within these States to function as legitimate medical marijuana dispensaries have seen their businesses locked down, assets frozen, businesses driven away, and in some cases the victims of a SWAT squad coming into their operation. It is simply outrageous that we are spending scarce Federal dollars to interfere with the medical needs of individuals, especially when it's been recommended by a physician and approved by the voters of a State.

Importantly, this amendment does nothing to prevent the Federal Government from being able to go after drug traffickers. In fact, it makes it easier because it prioritizes and gives those people a chance to go after drug traffickers rather than sick people.

Under this amendment, the DEA would still have the power to arrest anyone selling marijuana for recreational use or engaging in any activity that is not expressly allowed under State law. But they will have more time to go after the drug traffickers if they are not going after people who are providing medical marijuana to people who are sick.

It is time that we respect States' rights, get serious about prioritizing our Federal Government's activities, and show some common sense and compassion when dealing with the sick among us.

I urge all Members to vote ``yes'' for the Rohrabacher-Hinchey-McClintock-Farr amendment to prevent the Department of Justice from continuing to engage in activities that it has no business engaging in.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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