Dear Mr. Rosenweig,
Thank you for contacting me to express your support for the legalization of medical marijuana. In the 111th Congress, that is the aim of H.R. 2835, the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act.
As a Member of Congress, it is my responsibility to represent my
constituents’ concerns and interests and to provide them the honorable and enthusiastic service they deserve. I truly value your thoughts and suggestions on issues before the House. In a representative government such as ours, it is essential that I know what your views are on these issues.
As I did in the last Congress, I support the intent of the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act. H.R. 2835, which was introduced by Congressman Barney Frank on June 11, 2009, would eliminate federal preemption laws that conflict with 12 state laws which legalize the medical use of marijuana. The bill will not eliminate existing federal laws from penalizing non-medical or recreational use of marijuana nor will it require states that have not legalized medicinal marijuana use, to do so.
Currently, twelve states, mostly in the West, have enacted laws allowing the use of marijuana for patients seeking medicinal relief from a variety of serious illnesses by smoking marijuana or using other forms of herbal cannabis. However, the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) does not recognize these state laws, and therefore, continues to investigate and arrest, under federal statute, medical marijuana providers and users.
I believe this conflict between state and federal laws must be resolved. The citizens of this country should not be subject to conflicting laws from the state and federal level. What is legally permissible at one level should not be criminally punishable at another.
That is why I support the intent of the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, which was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
This bill provides that no provision of the Controlled Substances Act or the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act shall prohibit or otherwise restrict, in a state in which marijuana may, under state law, be prescribed or recommended by a physician for medical use:
(1) a physician from prescribing or recommending marijuana for medical use;
(2) an individual from obtaining, possessing, transporting, manufacturing, or using marijuana in accordance with such a prescription or recommendation;
(3) an individual authorized under state law to do so from obtaining, possessing, transporting, or manufacturing marijuana on an authorized patient’s behalf;
(4) a pharmacy or other entity authorized to do so from obtaining, possessing, or distributing marijuana to such patients; or
(5) an entity established by such a state or local government thereof to do so from producing, possessing, or distributing marijuana for such a prescription or recommendation.
You may also be interested to know that, in the 110th Congress, I supported passage of the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment to H.R. 3093, the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Bill, which would have prohibited the DEA and the United States Department of Justice from spending taxpayer money to raid, arrest, or prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers in the twelve states where medical marijuana is legal. It would not have prevented the DEA from arresting individuals who are involved in marijuana-related activities unconnected to medical use.
This amendment came to a vote on July 25, 2007, and although I gave it my support, the amendment failed to pass by a vote of 165 to 262.
Finally, I also supported the Steve McWilliams Truth in Trials Act, which would make it possible for defendants in federal court to reveal to juries that their marijuana activity was medically related and legal under state law.
I sincerely hope that this letter answers your request. If I can be of any additional assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me I look forward to our future correspondence.
Joseph A. Sestak
United States Congressman
Pennsylvania’s 7th District