WASHINGTON -- Reps. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) have joined forces in an effort to cut off funding for the federal government's ramped-up enforcement actions around medical marijuana.
The lawmakers' bipartisan legislation, which would prohibit the use of federal funds to interfere with state pot laws, is expected to hit the House floor as part of a broader debate over a bill, H.R. 5326, that funds the Department of Justice.
"Patients suffering from painful and serious illnesses are following the recommendations of their doctors by using medical cannabis to minimize their pain and support their recovery," Rep. Farr told HuffPost in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "It is time for the federal government to stop targeting the legal vendors that are providing safe access to this treatment, and instead focus limited resources on those who sell illicit drugs. The amendment I will offer with my colleagues will work to assure funds under the Department of Justice do not target the safe access to treatment patients need.”
The Justice Department did not immediately return a request for comment.
The bill comes as the administration has unleashed an interagency crackdown on the cannabis industry, with more than 100 raids, primarily on California pot dispensaries, many of them operating in full compliance with state laws. Since October 2009, the Justice Department has conducted more than 170 aggressive SWAT-style raids in nine medical marijuana states, resulting in at least 61 federal indictments, according to data compiled by Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group. Federal authorities have also seized property from landlords who rent space to growers, threatening them with prosecution, and authorities have even considered taking action against newspapers selling ad space to dispensaries.
The bipartisan legislation could come up for debate as soon as Tuesday night. The full text of the amendment reads:
None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.