June 11th, 2009 By: Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director
Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, along with over a dozen cosponsors, reintroduced legislation in Congress today to strengthen legal protections for state-authorized medical marijuana patients.
The bill, entitled the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act of 2009, seeks to amend the discrepancy between federal law and the laws of over a dozen states that have enacted regulations governing the therapeutic use of cannabis
Thirteen states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington – have enacted laws prohibiting medical marijuana patients from state prosecution. Passage of the the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act would ensure that medical cannabis patients or providers who are compliant with state law, such as Charles Lynch (who was recently sentenced in federal court), would no longer have to fear arrest or prosecution from federal law enforcement agencies.
Previous versions of the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act were introduced in both the 108th and 109th Congress, but failed to receive a public hearing or a committee vote.
While campaigning for the presidency, Barack Obama promised not to use Justice Department resources “to try and circumvent state (medical marijuana) laws” — a pledge that has been repeated in recent months by US Attorney General Eric Holder. Nevertheless, agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration have continued to target medical marijuana providers in states that allow for the drug’s use, and federal prosecutors have continued to bring federal anti-drug charges against defendants who were acting in accordance with their state’s cannabis laws.
To support the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act of 2009, please log on to NORML’s Take Action Center here.