President Barack Obama signed spending legislation into law on Tuesday that includes provisions limiting the Justice Department’s ability to take criminal action against state-licensed individuals or operations that are acting are in full compliance with the medical marijuana laws of their states.
Specifically, an amendment sponsored by California Reps. Dana Rohrbacher and Sam Farr to the $1.1 trillion spending bill states, “None of the funds made available in this act to the Department of Justice may be used … to prevent … states … from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
Said Farr following Congress’ passage of the legislation: “The federal government will finally respect the decisions made by the majority of states that passed medical marijuana laws. This is great day for common sense because now our federal dollars will be spent more wisely on prosecuting criminals and not sick patients.”
Similar language prohibiting the Justice Department from undermining state-sanctioned hemp cultivation programs was also included in the bill.
Also contained in the appropriations measure is a rider sponsored by Maryland Republican Andy Harris that seeks to limit DC officials’ ability to fully implement a November 2014 municipal initiative depenalizing the personal adult possession and cultivation of cannabis. At this time however, it remains unclear whether the enacted language is written in a manner that can actually do so. On Saturday, The Washington Post reported that DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson “plans to ignore the provision” and that he will “send a bill implementing Initiative 71 to Congress in January for a 30-day review, during which federal lawmakers can veto it or let it stand.” Such a review is necessary before any DC initiative can become law.
Washington DC’s Initiative 71, which was approved by 70 percent of District voters, removes criminal and civil penalties regarding the adult possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and/or the cultivation of up to six plants.
Federal Omnibus Includes Amendment to Prohibit DOJ/DEA From Interfering With State Medical MarijuanaDecember 9, 2014
The final version of the House omnibus appropriations bill includes the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which was approved by the House of Representatives earlier this year. The amendment restricts the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration from using taxpayer funds to interfere in state-sanctioned medical marijuana programs in the 20+ states that have enacted them.
NORML supporters have rallied in favor of this provision, with over 22,000 emails and countless direct calls being directed at federal lawmakers regarding the amendment this year.
“This amendment is an important step towards relieving the tension between federal and state policy when it comes to medical marijuana,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “By restricting these agencies in this manner, the nearly two dozen states that implemented medical marijuana programs can hopefully breathe easier knowing federal money won’t be spent to interfere with their progress. We hope this leads to further reforms at the federal level further enshrining this sentiment into law.”
The House is expect to hold a final vote on this bill in the next couple of days, with a Senate vote to follow. You can read the full bill here.
Adding to his ever-growing series of pro-cannabis law reform song parody videos, as well as in support of his home state’s current efforts to pass a medical cannabis initiative, comedian and Miami Beach political gadfly Steve Berke has just released a new pro-pot parody based on the famous movie of the 1970s ‘Grease‘.
Upping the ante in Berke’s video productions, his talented crew drove from Florida to Texas, in search of the original amusement park backdrop used for the 1978 movie production of ‘Grease’.
“You’re The Law That I Want!”
A more heartfelt and satirical political advertisement in support of passing the voter ballot initiative question in Florida this fall, Amendment 2, is hard to envisage.
For more information about Steve Berke’s 4TT production company and make donations to run 30 second version of the Grease parody on Florida TV stations check out press release below.
PRESS CONTACT: Lee Molloy
September 15, 2014
For Immediate Release
Miami Beach politician drives 1,400 miles to Texas to shoot “Grease” parody video supporting the legalization of medical marijuana in Florida
Founded by former Miami Beach mayoral candidate Steve Berke, The After Party PAC is a political organization fighting to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. Advocating for a ‘Yes’ vote on Amendment 2, The After Party recently commissioned a shot-for-shot parody video of the song “You’re the One that I Want” from the movie “Grease.”
Called “You’re the Law that I Want (Yes on 2)” the musical parody faithfully recreates the carnival scene made famous by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John – with Berke taking on the role of Travolta.
The original Fun House used as a location in the ’70s movie classic was in service at a county fair in Texas this summer. So, Berke and the production crew traveled the 1,400 miles from Miami Beach to Decatur (in an RV) especially for the two-day shoot.
“Our crew drove half way across the country because we wanted to make this parody as authentic as possible,” Berke said. “We felt compelled to really go to bat for the 1.1 million Floridians who signed the petition to get medical marijuana on the ballot this November.”
Berke is a former professional tennis player who found marijuana after herniating two discs in his lower back. The injury permanently ended his tennis career and Berke, an athlete and Yale graduate, realized that marijuana wasn’t just for stoners when his doctor in California recommended trying medical marijuana to manage his pain as an alternative to dangerous prescription drugs.
“Ultimately, all we are asking for is that people in Florida have the same opportunity that I had to get the medicine they need,” Berke said. “And, our video gets that message across in a way that is fun, informative and memorable.”
The passage of state laws legalizing the physician-recommended possession and consumption of cannabis by qualified patients has not led to an increase in adolescents’ use of the plant, according to a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research – a non-partisan research organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Investigators from the University of Colorado at Denver, the University of Oregon, and Montana State University assessed federal data on youth marijuana use and treatment episodes for the years 1993 to 2011 – a time period when 16 states authorized medical cannabis use.
Authors reported, “Our results are not consistent with the hypothesis that the legalization of medical marijuana caused an increase in the use of marijuana among high school students. In fact, estimates from our preferred specification are small, consistently negative, and are never statistically distinguishable from zero.”
A separate analysis published in April in the Journal of Adolescent Health similarly determined, “This study did not find increases in adolescent marijuana use related to legalization of medical marijuana. … This suggests that concerns about ‘sending the wrong message’ may have been overblown.”
Full text of the study, “Medical marijuana laws and teen marijuana use,” is available online here.
Senate members are expected to vote imminently in regard to language that seeks to bar the US Justice Department from interfering in activities that are compliant with state medical cannabis laws.
Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) will introduce the bipartisan amendment, which will be similar to language approved by the US House of Representatives earlier this month. As with other legislation, the amendment must be approved by majorities in both legislative chambers before it is sent to the President for approval.
This will be the first time in recent memory that US Senators have ever decided on provisions specific to liberalizing America’s marijuana policies.
It is time that we allowed our unique federalist system to work the way it was intended. Patients and providers should be permitted to engage in state-sanctioned, medical cannabis-related activities free from the threat of federal interference or federal prosecution.
Please write or call your members of Senate today and tell them to stop using taxpayer dollars to target and prosecute state-authorized medical marijuana patients and providers. For your convenience, a pre-written letter will be e-mailed to your Senators when you visit here.