Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) vowed to continue to fight federal raids on medical marijuana after a bipartisan measure he introduced along with Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.) and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) went down to defeat in the House of Representatives last week.
"The federal government needs to once and for all put an end to these senseless raids and prosecutions of medical marijuana patients, doctors, and suppliers who are in complete compliance with their own state's laws concerning the drug," Hinchey told News Channel 34 in a statement.
"It is incomprehensible that the DEA would think that it's a good use of its resources to arrest and prosecute an American who is using medical marijuana in accordance with state law to relieve their pain and suffering from AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis or glaucoma. I'm pleased to see so many of my colleagues vote in support of this amendment to protect states' rights, but obviously it was not enough," he continued. "The fight goes on."
The legislation, which would have eliminated funding for federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in states where they're legal, was part of the appropriations bill to fund the Department of Justice for fiscal 2013. It failed 262-163.
Of the 190 Democrats in the House, 134 (more than 70 percent) voted in favor of the bill. Only 29 of the 242 House Republicans (less than 12 percent) did.
The statement comes as the Obama administration has unleashed an inter-agency crackdown on the cannabis industry, with raids on pot dispensaries, many in California operating in full compliance with state law. Since October 2009, the Justice Department has conducted more than 170 aggressive SWAT-style raids in nine states that allow medical marijuana, resulting in at least 61 federal indictments, according to data compiled by Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group.
While medical marijuana is legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia, federal law says any use of marijuana is illegal.