by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director
Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, along with over a dozen cosponsors, reintroduced legislation in Congress to strengthen legal protections for state-authorized medical marijuana patients.
The bill, entitled the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act of 2009, seeks to amend the discrepancy between federal law and the laws of over a dozen states that have enacted regulations governing the therapeutic use of cannabis.
Thirteen states â€“ Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington â€“ have enacted laws prohibiting medical marijuana patients from state prosecution.Â
Passage of the the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act would ensure that medical cannabis patients or providers who are compliant with state law, such as Charles Lynch (who was sentenced in federal court), would no longer have to fear arrest or prosecution from federal law enforcement agencies.
Previous versions of the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act were introduced in both the 108th and 109th Congress, but failed to receive a public hearing or a committee vote.
While campaigning for the presidency, Barack Obama promised not to use Justice Department resources â€œto try and circumvent state (medical marijuana) lawsâ€ â€” a pledge that has been repeated in recent months by US Attorney General Eric Holder.
Nevertheless, agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration have continued to target medical marijuana providers in states that allow for the drugâ€™s use, and federal prosecutors have continued to bring federal anti-drug charges against defendants who were acting in accordance with their stateâ€™s cannabis laws.
It is time that we allowed our unique federalist system to work the way it was intended. Patients and their state representatives should have the authority to enact laws permitting the medical use of cannabis — free from federal interference.
Please write your members of Congress today and tell them to stop targeting and prosecuting medical marijuana patients and providers.