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Rep. Wasserman Schultz's Interest in U.S. Senate Run Not Welcome News to Medical Marijuana Activists

02/19/2015 05:38 pm ET | Updated Apr 21, 2015
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Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's (D-FL), interest in running for the U.S. Senate has generated lots of political rumblings.

As Politico noted today, groups working to end the criminalization of medical marijuana patients are lining up to make sure Floridians are aware of her archaic drug policy views.

Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), has been a consistent and sometimes lonely voice in opposition to medical marijuana. Many times in the last decade, she voted against congressional amendments to protect state medical marijuana laws from federal interference.

She opposed a proposal on last November's Florida ballot that would have protected medical marijuana patients and their providers from arrest. Her extreme prohibitionist views put her outside of not only the political party she helps lead, butmost of America.

Polls show that roughly three-quarters of Americans support allowing cancer and other patients access to medical marijuana. This support crosses political lines with a majority of Democrats, Republicans, and independents favoring medical marijuana.

The Florida measure she opposed was approved by a solid majority of voters (58 percent), even after opponents spent millions of dollars on deceptive ads designed to defeat the measure (Unfortunately, ballot measures need to get 60 percent of the vote to become law in Florida).

Last year, a bipartisan amendment was introduced on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to stop the Department of Justice and DEA from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. This amendment passed the House and eventually was included into a federal spending bill. Rep. Wasserman Schultz was one of only 17 Democrats (90 percent of Dems who cast a vote, voted the right way) to vote against the amendment.

Her opposition to marijuana law reform puts her on the wrong side of history. Currently, 23 states have legalized marijuana for medical use. A dozen more allow limited access to a particular strain of medical marijuana that is good for treating epileptic seizures. Four states have legalized marijuana like alcohol and 19 states have decriminalized possession of marijuana for non-medical use.

While the country moved towards more sensible marijuana policies, Wasserman Schultz remains inexplicably out of touch. This does not bode well for an elected official contemplating running for a higher office.

Medical marijuana received 58 percent of the vote in her state, more than she could ever expect to win in a statewide race. In that fact is a lesson for her. Hopefully she will change how she votes on the issue.

Bill Piper is the director of national affairs for Drug Policy Action.