Due to staff travel schedule,
Drug War Chronicle's full report on the Hinchey-Rohrabacher medical marijuana
amendment vote is waiting until next week. However, we here report
to you on the results and some highlights.
First, the amendment lost
on a 163-259 vote -- a net increase of two "aye" votes from last year --
only a slight gain, but in a high-stakes election year probably not bad.
Of the 163 who voted for medical marijuana, 18 were Republicans.
Click here to
see the official roll call and find out how your Rep. voted -- if you don't
know who your Rep. is, you can use our online lookup
tool to find out.
Supreme Court plaintiff Angel Raich leads demonstrators to the
office of medical marijuana opponent and
arch-drug warrior Mark Souder, 5/4/05
The biggest surprise is that
one of the "ayes" was Dan Burton, a conservative Republican from Indiana
who has generally been a pretty hard-line drug warrior, if not a virulent
one -- more independent than some members of Congress, perhaps, but very
hard-line on the issue. Burton did stun observers of a Government
Reform and Oversight Committee in December 2002 -- his last before stepping
down as chairman -- by implicitly
raising the legalization question, talking about taking the profit
out of drugs, even referring to Al Capone and alcohol prohibition.
But he has nevertheless been a hard-liner on the issue in his actual legislating
before and since. Burton's son was busted with large quantities of
marijuana two times in 1994, receiving
a light sentence the first time and none the second -- we can only
speculate what effect if any this family experience has had on his views.
Also surprising was that Rep. Mark Souder, also an Indiana Republican, did not stand up to speak against the amendment. Souder, as Drug War Chronicle readers know, is one of the most ardent and vociferous drug warriors in Congress.
One of the highlights from
the debate were remarks by Rep. David Obey (D-WI): "If I am terminally
ill, it is not anybody's business on this floor how I handle the pain or
the illness or the sickness associated with that illness. With all
due respect to all of you, butt out. I did not enter this world with
the permission of the Justice Department, and I am certainly not going
to depart it by seeking their permission or that of any other authority.
The Congress has no business telling people that they cannot manage their
illness or their pain any way they need to. I would trust any doctor
in the country before I trust some of the daffy ducks in this institution
to decide what I am supposed to do if I am terminally ill... When is this
Congress going to recognize that individuals in their private lives have
a right to manage their problems as they see fit without the permission
of the big guy in the White House or the big guy in the Justice Department
or any of the Lilliputians on this Congressional floor? Wake up!"
Special thanks to the 2,500+
DRCNet members who used our web site to write to Congress during the lead-up
to the vote, and commendations to the organizations who made heroic lobbying
efforts -- check back with us next week for more of the story.
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