Congress Deals Another Setback To Medical Pot By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday June 17, 2005

Congress dealt medical marijuana users their second blow in as many weeks Wednesday, defeating a proposal that would have barred the Justice Department from prosecuting medical pot growers and users in states with medical pot laws. 

The amendment to the Justice Department’s appropriation bill received 161 votes, more than in the past two years, but 57 votes short of the 218 needed for passage. Last year the amendment, authored by Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) and Maurice Hinchey (D-New York), received 148 votes. 

After the vote, Oakland resident Angel Raich, a plaintiff in the case decided by the Supreme Court last week, said in a prepared statement that she believed Congress would eventually reverse its position of medical marijuana. 

“I hope that the federal government will one day show compassion for patients like me,” she said. 

The high court ruled 6-3 that medical marijuana laws in 10 states did not preclude federal agents from enforcing federal drug laws. 

Marijuana is classified as a schedule 1 drug under the Federal Ccontrolled Substances Act, meaning the government considers it to be addictive and have no medicinal properties. 

Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) released a statement after the vote calling on Congress to protect medical marijuana users from federal prosecution. 

“The federal government has better things to do than prosecute sick people who are following their doctor’s orders and obeying state law,” Lee said.