Amendment to Defund Obama's MMJ Raids Fails

By Sarah Beller 05/11/12

A bipartisan group of House representatives seeks to pull the plug on the federal medical pot crackdown.

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The raids will continue—for now. Photo via

This week an amendment that would have pulled funding for federal raids on medical pot dispensaries in places where they're legal under state law failed in the House of Representatives. The bipartisan measure—sponsored by Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.) and Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), and tacked onto a bill funding the Department of Justice for 2013—came in response to President Obama’s MMJ crackdown. It won support from 134 of the 190 House Democrats, but only 29 of the 242 House Republicans backed it. “If states' rights aren't a good enough reason to pass this amendment, do it because of compassion," argued Sam Farr. "We offer this amendment for terminal cancer patients, for AIDS victims, for persons who suffer chronic pain." He said it would also protect those states "that are progressive enough to provide alternative medical options to those who need it." Though the amendment failed, the issue isn't going anywhere. Last week, Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) denounced the raids, while Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) called them "bad policy and bad politics." Bill Piper, director of national affairs of the Drug Policy Alliance, says Obama "needs to realize his assault on patient access is not just immoral—but a serious political miscalculation. For more than a decade, polling has consistently shown that 70-80% of Americans support medical marijuana.”

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Sarah Beller is a writer and the Executive Director at Filter. She has written about drug policy with a focus on harm reduction for Substance.comThe Fix and Salon. She has worked as a social worker with formerly incarcerated people in New York for a number of years. Her writing has also appeared in McSweeney’sThe HairpinThe ToastReductressThe Rumpus and other publications. You can find Sarah on Linkedin and Twitter.