Marijuana Policy Project

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Delaware: Legislature Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession; Governor Expected To Sign

DelawareSmallWonderMarijuanaRoadSign[MarijuanaStocks.com]

The Delaware Senate on Thursday approved a bill 12-9 on Thursday that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for adult possession of a small amount of marijuana.

The measure, which was approved in the House earlier this month, will now be sent to Gov. Jack Markell (D), who is expected to sign it into law. In a March letter to the editor of The New York Times, Gov. Jack Markell said he is “hopeful that [his] state will decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South) in the House and sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington East) in the Senate, would replace criminal penalties for adult marijuana possession with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of a $575 fine and three months in jail.

“Laws that criminalize people for simple marijuana possession are outdated and counterproductive,” Rep. Keeley said. “Delaware is taking an appropriate step to right size the penalty for small quantity possession.”

“Senate action on this bill is commonsense and will remove the potential implication a criminal record can have for a person seeking employment, housing, and education,” Sen. Henry said. “It is important to more appropriately penalize people in possession of marijuana for personal use.”

Delaware: Senate Committee Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana

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The Delaware Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a bill 4-2 that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for simple adult marijuana possession and replace them with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. The measure will now be considered by the full Senate.

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South) in the House and sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilimington East) in the Senate, would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an adult a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail.

The House of Representatives approved HB 39 on June 2, and Gov. Jack Markell (D) said in a March letter to the editor of The New York Times that he is “hopeful that [his] state will decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

“Adults should not face potentially life-altering criminal penalties simply for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” Sen. Henry said. "The potential impact for employment, housing, and education are too severe under current law for the violation.”

U.S.: Senate Panel Votes To Prevent DEA Interference In State Medical Marijuana Laws

AmericansSupportEndingFederalCrackdownOnMarijuana[USNews]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In yet another huge victory for marijuana reform, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved an amendment to prevent the Department of Justice from spending money to interfere with state medical marijuana laws. The vote was 20 - 10.

The amendment, offered by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) to the Senate version of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, prohibits the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws that allow the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

It mirrors the amendment sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) that was approved 242-186 last week in the House of Representatives. Passage of identical amendments in the House and Senate typically indicates it will be included in the final spending bill Congress sends to President Obama.

The House also approved amendments to protect state industrial hemp laws and to reduce the DEA’s budget by shifting money away from marijuana eradication and toward better uses.

"We very narrowly lost a vote that would have stopped DoJ from interfering with all state marijuana laws, not just those that are limited to medical marijuana," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority.

New Hampshire: Senate Blocks Widely Supported Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

DecriminalizeMarijuana!

Despite overwhelming approval in the House — and a poll released last week that found 63% of New Hampshire voters support such legislation — the Senate tabled HB 618 on Thursday evening

The New Hampshire Senate on Thursday evening blocked a widely supported bill that would have removed criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

After Senators voted 9-15 to overturn the Judiciary Committee’s recommendation that the bill be killed, Sens. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) and David Pierce (D-Etna) proposed a compromise floor amendment to HB 618. Four senators argued strongly against the bill and the amendment: David Boutin (R-Hooksett), Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry), Gary Daniels (R-Milford), and Jeannie Forrester (R-Meredith).

Senators were unable to agree on the language and the bill was tabled.

HB 618, which the House approved 297-67 in March, would have made possession of up to one-half ounce of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and $500 for a third or subsequent offense. Under current state law, possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

U.S.: House Narrowly Votes Against Protecting State Recreational Marijuana Laws

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The House approved a similar amendment that applies only to state laws allowing the cultivation and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday narrowly defeated a measure 206-222 on Wednesday that was intended to prevent the federal government from interfering with state laws legalizing marijuana for all purposes, including adult recreational use.

The amendment, offered by Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO) to the House version of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, would have prohibited the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws that allow the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana.

Earlier, the House approved a similar amendment that applies only to state medical marijuana laws, which was offered by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA). It has been offered in the House eight times since 2003, and the first time it passed was last year by a vote of 219-189. It was codified in the so-called “CRomnibus” funding bill in December, and it is expected to be included in the final spending law again this year.

U.S.: House Votes To Protect State Medical Marijuana Laws From Federal Interference

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The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a measure 242-186 that is intended to prevent the federal government from interfering in state medical marijuana laws.

The amendment, offered by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) to the House version of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, prohibits the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from using funds to interfere in the implementation of laws that allow the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The amendment has been offered in the House eight times since 2003, and it passed for the first time last year by a vote of 219-189. It was codified in the so-called “CRomnibus” funding bill in December, and it is expected to be included in the final spending law again this year.

The House is now expected to consider a broader measure that would not be limited to medical marijuana. The amendment, offered by Reps. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO), would prohibit the Justice Department from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws regulating marijuana for adult use, in addition to medical purposes.

Delaware: House Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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Senate will now consider HB 39, which would replace potential jail time with a civil fine for possession of a small amount of marijuana by adults

The Delaware House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill 24-14 that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for possession of a small amount of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. The bill, which was amended on the floor to apply only to adults, will now be sent to the Senate.

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South), would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by an adult a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail.

“Laws that criminalize people for simple marijuana possession are outdated and counterproductive,” said Robert Capecchi, deputy director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “We’re grateful the Delaware House agrees and hopeful that the Senate will join them in supporting this commonsense legislation.

"Delaware cannot afford to continue arresting people, jailing them, and giving them criminal records just for possessing a small amount of marijuana,” Capecchi said.

Texas: Governor To Sign Limited Medical Marijuana Bill Into Law

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SB 339 is intended to allow access to low-THC marijuana extracts for qualifying seizure patients; advocates hope to fix the flawed measure in next legislative session

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is scheduled to sign a bill into law Monday that recognizes the medical benefits of marijuana. SB 339, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), is intended to allow patients with intractable seizure conditions to access marijuana extracts containing high levels of cannabidiol (CBD) and only trace levels of THC.

SB 339 requires doctors to “prescribe” low-THC marijuana extracts to patients, which exposes doctors to federal criminal sanctions. By contrast, doctors “recommend” medical marijuana or “certify” or "authorize" patients to use medical marijuana in the 23 states with comprehensive medical marijuana laws and the District of Columbia.

Unlike “prescriptions,” recommendations, certifications and authorizations are federally legal and protected under the First Amendment.

The bill also only allows for extracts with very little THC, and some seizure patients say a greater ratio of THC to CBD is necessary for it to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of seizures. The bill also fails to allow access to any medical marijuana products for people suffering from other debilitating conditions, such as PTSD, cancer, and multiple sclerosis, for which medical marijuana has been found to have significant medical benefits.

Illinois: Senate Approves Bill To Remove Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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Measure Will Be Sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner for His Signature

HB 218 replaces the threat of jail time and a criminal record with a civil penalty — a $125 fine, similar to a traffic ticket — for possession of a small amount of marijuana

The Illinois Senate on Thursday approved a bill 37-19 to remove criminal penalties for possession of a small amount of marijuana. The measure, which was approved by the House of Representatives in April, will now be sent to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature.

HB 218, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin) and in the House by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), makes possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana a civil law violation punishable by a $125 fine. Individuals will no longer face time in jail, and the civil offense will be automatically expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record.

“Serious criminal penalties should be reserved for individuals who commit serious crimes,” Rep. Cassidy said. “The possibility of jail time should not even be on the table when it comes to simple marijuana possession. Criminalizing people for marijuana possession is not a good use of our state’s limited law enforcement resources.”

Texas: House Approves Flawed Medical Marijuana Bill; Will Go To Governor For Signature

TexasMedicalMarijuanaPolicyReform[ProgressTexas]

Bill is intended to allow access to low-THC marijuana extracts for qualifying seizure patients; House fails to pass amendment to fix major problem

The Texas State House on Monday approved a bill 96-34 intended to allow qualifying patients with intractable seizure conditions to access a marijuana extract containing high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, and only trace levels of THC. SB 339, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), is extremely unlikely to provide patients with relief because it requires doctors to engage in conduct that is prohibited by federal law.

SB 339 previously passed the Senate on May 7. It now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott.

“On a certain level, the legislature should be commended for acknowledging the medical value of marijuana, and it is an historic vote in that sense,” said Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Lawmakers missed several opportunities to amend the bill in ways that could have provided real relief to countless Texans. Not a single patient will be helped by this legislation.”

SB 339 requires doctors to “prescribe” marijuana to patients, which exposes doctors to federal criminal sanctions. By contrast, doctors “recommend” medical marijuana or “certify” patients to use medical marijuana in the 23 states with comprehensive medical marijuana laws and the District of Columbia. Unlike “prescriptions,” recommendations and certifications are federally legal and protected under the First Amendment.

Pennsylvania: Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Pennsylvania Senate on Tuesday voted 40-7 to approve a bill that would make it legal for seriously ill patients to use marijuana to treat their conditions with recommendations from their doctors. The bill will now go to the House for consideration.

SB 3, sponsored by Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon), would allow qualified patients to obtain medical marijuana from a limited number of licensed, regulated dispensaries throughout the state.

Smoking would not be permitted under the restrictive language of the bill, but patients could consume marijuana in edible form, and patients with certain conditions could consume it through vaporization. Patients under the age of 18 would be required to have parental consent in order to take part in the program.

Unfortunately, home cultivation would also not be allowed under the bill, depriving many fixed-income patients of an economical way to provide their own medicine.

Pennsylvanians suffering from cancer, seizures, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cachexia/wasting syndrome, Parkinson's disease, traumatic brain injury and postconcussion syndrome, multiple sclerosis, spinocerebellara ataxia (SCA), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, and chronic pain would be eligible for the program with a recommendation from their doctor.

Texas: Provocative Marijuana TV Ad To Begin Airing As Lawmakers Consider Reducing Penalties

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A provocative television ad in support of legislation to reduce penalties for simple marijuana possession in Texas began airing Tuesday in the state’s four largest media markets.

The ad is scheduled to air on CNN, ESPN, and Fox News Channel across Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin through Thursday at midnight, the deadline by which the House must approve HB 507 in order for it to advance to the Senate.

You can watch the ad below, or online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E83Uv4VtpsE.

In the ad, Russell Jones, a Texas Hill Country resident who served 10 years as a police officer and narcotics detective in California, highlights the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol and says limited law enforcement resources should not be wasted on arresting and jailing people for using the less harmful substance.

“I know of no instance in my entire career where someone was acting out under the influence of marijuana,” Jones says. “People under the influence of alcohol are much more problematic.

"Law enforcement officials have more important things to do with their time than arrest people for marijuana possession," Jones says in the ad. "They need to be there to protect the public, to respond to crimes such as robbery, burglaries, rape, and murders.”

The ad cites annual arrest reports produced by the Texas Department of Public Safety that show more than 360,000 arrests for marijuana possession were made in Texas from 2009-2013.

Texas: Senate Approves Unworkable Medical Marijuana Bill

TexasMedicalMarijuanaPolicyReform[ProgressTexas]

House will now consider measure that is intended to allow access to low-THC marijuana extract for qualifying seizure patients

The Texas State Senate on Thursday approved a bill 26-5 that is intended to allow qualifying patients with intractable seizure conditions to access a marijuana extract containing high levels of cannabidiol, or CBD, and only trace levels of THC. SB 339, introduced by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), will now be considered by the state House of Representatives.

“We’re pleased to see a majority of the Senate recognizes the medical benefits of marijuana, but it’s of little comfort if patients aren’t able to experience them,” said Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Texas needs a comprehensive medical marijuana program that allows patients to take full advantage of the various compounds found in different types of marijuana.”

SB 336 requires doctors to “prescribe” marijuana to patients, which exposes doctors to federal criminal sanctions. By contrast, doctors “recommend” medical marijuana or “certify” patients to use medical marijuana in the 23 states with comprehensive medical marijuana laws and the District of Columbia.

Unlike “prescriptions,” recommendations and certifications are federally legal and protected under the First Amendment.

Texas: House Committee Approves Bill To Make Marijuana Legal For Adults

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The Texas House of Representatives Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Wednesday approved a bill 5-1 that would end marijuana prohibition in the state.

HB 2165, introduced in March by Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview), would strike references to marijuana offenses from Texas statutes, resulting in marijuana being treated similarly to other legal crops.

Nearly three out of five Texas voters (58 percent) support making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it like alcohol, according to a statewide survey conducted by Public Policy Polling in September 2013.

Four states have adopted laws that regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol. Two of them, Colorado and Washington, have established regulated systems of marijuana cultivation and sales. Alaska and Oregon are in the process of implementing similar systems.

“Marijuana prohibition’s days are numbered in the Lone Star State," said Heather Fazio, Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Texas voters recognize that punishing adults for consuming a substance that is safer than alcohol is a waste of law enforcement resources and an affront to individual liberty. It appears most of the committee members agree.

“State officials are increasingly becoming fed up with the failed federal government policy of marijuana prohibition, and they’re taking action," Fazio said. "Like most Americans, most Texans are ready for a more sensible, fiscally sound marijuana policy.”

Delaware: House Committee Approves Bill Removing Criminal Penalties For Marijuana Possession

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The Delaware House of Representatives Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday approved a bill 5-4 that would remove criminal penalties and potential jail time for possession of a small amount of marijuana and replace them with a civil fine similar to a traffic ticket. The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.

HB 39, introduced by Rep. Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington South), would make possession of up to one ounce of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine with no possibility of jail. Under current Delaware law, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $575 fine and up to three months in jail.

“This is a modest, commonsense policy change that is long overdue in Delaware,” Rep. Keeley said. “Simply possessing a small amount of marijuana does not warrant jail time and the other serious consequences of a criminal conviction. The punishment should fit the crime, not cause more harm than the crime.”

More than two-thirds of Delaware voters (68 percent) support removing criminal penalties for marijuana possession and making it a civil offense, punishable by a fine of up to $100 with no possibility of jail time, according to a statewide survey conducted in March by Public Policy Polling. Only 26 percent said they were opposed. Full results are available at http://www.mpp.org/DEpoll.

U.S.: Marijuana Policy Project To Celebrate 20th Anniversary Wednesday With Capitol Hill Gala

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The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) will celebrate its 20th anniversary Wednesday evening with a gala on Capitol Hill.

Members of Congress and the marijuana business community will be among those in attendance to recognize the gains that have been made by the organization, which is responsible for most major state-level marijuana policy reforms since 2000.

MPP executive director Rob Kampia, Chuck Thomas, and Mike Kirshner launched the organization out of their apartments in Washington, D.C. in 1995. It now has nearly 30 full-time staff members and an annual budget of more than $3 million. MPP monitors policy in all 50 states, lobbies in state legislatures and in Congress, coordinates state and local ballot initiatives, and carries out public education activities at the local and national levels.

“For 20 years, our focus has been on changing the debate, changing public attitudes, and changing the laws surrounding marijuana in the United States,” Kampia said. “MPP has evolved right alongside the issue. As support has increased and public dialogue has grown, the organization has expanded and played an increasingly larger role in the discussion.

“Ultimately, the facts speak for themselves; we just make sure people are listening,” Kampia said.

U.S.: Bill Introduced In Congress Would Allow States To Determine Their Own Marijuana Laws

MarijuanaRightTurn[ThePoliticsOfPot]

Under the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, producing, distributing, and consuming marijuana in compliance with state marijuana laws would no longer be a violation of federal marijuana laws

U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and five Republican co-sponsors on Tuesday introduced legislation in Congress that would modify the federal Controlled Substances Act so that anyone acting in compliance with a state marijuana law would be immune from federal prosecution.

The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015 would apply to all marijuana-related activities, medical and non-medical, in the states in which they are authorized.

Republican co-sponsors of the re-introduced 2015 bill include Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Tom McClintock, and Don Young (R-AK). Democratic co-sponsors include Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Dina Titus (D-NV), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Mark Pocan (D-WI).

Four states have adopted laws regulating marijuana similarly to alcohol — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. Twenty-three states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territory of Guam have adopted laws allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Two out of three Americans (67 percent) think Congress should pass a bill to make states that tightly regulate marijuana a safe haven from federal marijuana laws, according to a report released in January by Third Way, a centrist think tank.

Arizona: Ballot Initiative To Legalize, Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Filed

Arizona-LegalizeIt.RegulateIt.TaxIt.GrowTheEconomy.

A statewide ballot initiative to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol in Arizona will be filed on Friday with the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State.

Representatives of a unified coalition of organizations, activists, and marijuana businesses that are supporting the measure will hold a media availability at 1 p.m. MST in front of the Executive Tower of the Arizona State Capitol, prior to submitting the initiative to the Elections Division on the 7th floor.

“It was a long and deliberative drafting process involving a diverse group of stakeholders,” said Carlos Alfaro, Arizona political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “There were some bumps in the road, but in the end everyone came together to produce the best possible law for Arizona.

"We are united in this effort to end marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol,” Alfaro said.

In summary, the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act would:

• Allow adults 21 years of age and older to possess and privately consume and grow limited amounts of marijuana (it will remain illegal to consume marijuana in public);

• Create a system in which licensed businesses can produce and sell marijuana to adults and establish a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control to regulate the cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation, and sale of marijuana;

• Provide local governments with the authority to regulate and prohibit marijuana businesses; and

Illinois: Medical Cannabis Physicians' Summit Aims To Educate Medical Community

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The Canna Law Group, in partnership with the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, Americans for Safe Access, and the Marijuana Policy Project, is co-hosting the Illinois Medical Cannabis Physicians’ Summit on Friday, June 5, 2015 at the Westin Chicago River North.

The summit will educate licensed medical professionals on current medical cannabis research, state and federal law, and the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. “Educating the medical community about medical cannabis treatment options is essential for the long-term success of the program,” said Rep. Lou Lang, prime sponsor of the current medical cannabis law.

The event will feature as its keynote speaker leading cannabis researcher Dr. Donald Abrams, who has conducted multiple FDA-approved studies on the medical benefits of cannabis. Dr. Suzanne Sisley, another clinical researcher on cannabis who studies its benefits for PTSD sufferers, will also speak at the summit.

“Many doctors need to better understand the current research behind medical cannabis,” said Dr. Abrams. “This is a chance to share my own first-hand research experiences at the University of California San Francisco and educate Illinois doctors about how I've applied those experiences in a clinical setting.”

Also speaking is Dr. Leslie Mendoza-Temple, chair of the Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, who said “This will be an important event for any medical professional who wants to understand the research, law, and administrative processes of a program that will help thousands of patients in Illinois.”

U.S.: Smackdown! Congressmen Tell Justice Department To Halt Medical Marijuana Prosecutions

DEAGoAway!Protest[MedicalMarijuana411]

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder released Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Reps. Sam Farr (D-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) refuted the Justice Department’s recent interpretation of a spending provision intended to protect state medical marijuana laws and confirmed that any criminal or civil action against medical marijuana providers is a violation of federal law. The full letter is available at http://www.mpp.org/DOJletter.

The letter comes in response to statements made last week by a Justice Department spokesman to The Los Angeles Times. In the article, the spokesman said the Justice Department can still prosecute medical marijuana cases, notwithstanding the spending restriction adopted by Congress. The full article is available at http://mppne.ws/1a6F6bb.

In the letter, the Congressmen call the Justice Department’s interpretation “emphatically wrong” and ask Holder to “bring [the] Department back into compliance with federal law” by halting prosecutions and asset forfeiture actions in states with medical marijuana laws.

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