Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

Activists Target House Members Who Oppose Medical Marijuana

Pro-marijuana forces are now targeting House members who vote against medical use. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Pro-marijuana forces are now targeting House members who vote against medical use. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Advocates for expanding access to medical marijuana plan to turn up the pressure on members of Congress who aren’t supporting their cause.

They’re starting with two House members who voted last week against an amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill that would bar federal government interference on state-approved pot and hemp laws.

The amendment passed 219-189, a victory for the bipartisan House coalition that sponsored the measure and supporters of the issue off Capitol Hill — but activists aren’t letting detractors off the hook.

Over the next few days, the “Vote Medical Marijuana” campaign, housed within the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, will run 30-second TV spots on MSNBC in Maryland and South Florida, the homes of two of the members who voted “no” — Republican Andy Harris and Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

“Congressman Andy Harris thinks it’s OK for medical marijuana patients to go to federal prison, even though Maryland passed a medical marijuana bill in April,” a man’s voice intones over the first television ad. “On May 30, Congressman Harris voted against an amendment to respect marijuana laws and protect Maryland patients.

“Why would Congressman Harris vote to send patients like this to prison?” the voice continues, as an image of a 4-year-old boy who suffers from epilepsy and his mother is displayed. “Seventy-two percent of Maryland residents support medical marijuana. Is Congressman Harris out of touch with Maryland?”

The ad targeting Wasserman Schultz, one of just 18 Democrats to vote against the amendment and the only member of of leadership to cast a “no” vote, follows a nearly identical framework.

The 30-second spot alleges that Wasserman Schultz wants medical marijuana users to go to federal prison, while 88 percent of Floridians support legalizing access. The same man’s voice asks whether Wasserman Schultz is “out of touch” with Florida, and an image flashes across the screen of an elderly man and his wife, who has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a fatal neurological disease.

Though only airing in two corners of the country and in response to two members’ votes, the ads could soon turn up in more districts, and resonate with other members on both sides of the aisle who voted against the amendment.

Senators could also feel the heat in anticipation of their chamber’s consideration of the C-J-S appropriations bills in the weeks ahead.

The Senate appropriations chairwoman and the head of the Senate’s C-J-S subcommittee, Democrat Barbara A. Mikulski, hails from Maryland, and said this week that she supports the availability of medical marijuana “under regulation,” but she has not been an active proponent of changing federal policy. Meanwhile, the C-J-S subcommittee ranking member, Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., has made his opposition to the legalization of marijuana known, “and would therefore oppose such a provision,” according to a Senate GOP appropriations aide.

The full Senate appropriations panel held a mark-up of its C-J-S bill on Thursday morning, without including any amendments relating to medical marijuana, though most amendment battles are waged not in committee but on the Senate floor.

But even if the Senate were to agree to the House amendment, or language similar, negotiations between the two chambers to combine the bills might result in the provision being stripped: House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and C-J-S Chairman Frank R. Wolf, R-Va., are both opposed to medical marijuana.

Every member of House GOP leadership, with the exception of Republican National Campaign Committee Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon, also voted against the House amendment last week.

John Gramlich, Tamar Hallerman and Joanna Anderson contributed to this report.

  • ShadrachSmith

    Libertarian and Federalist reasoning gives the Republicans all the cover they need to support state regulation of this issue. Thomas’ dissent in Gonzales v Raich describes the best view on the subject.

    As for Schedule 1 federal prosecution…to what purpose?

    • Nicko Thime

      OTH, it has been recognized as effective in treating ADD and ADHD. It’s gotta be better than feeding kids speed.

    • Law ‘n order

      There is no credible evidence that “it seems to make kids stupid”.

      • ShadrachSmith

        Teenage Marijuana Use and the Frontal Cortex

        • teatoker

          if you had credible evidence, you would post it, just saying look it up is not going to cut it. there is no evidence of harm or lower IQ. i smoked since i was 12 almost every day for 15 years, and at 20 years old i took an IQ test and scored 120. (since then i have only increased my knowledge and reading speed) i knew alot of stupid people who smoked pot, but i knew them before they smoked pot, and they were stupid then as well. it really depends how you spend your time, if you smoke and just listen to music, you will become dumb, not from the smoke, but from the lack of thought. if you smoke and research things online, watch science videos, program video games and solve puzzles while high, you will become more intelligent.

      • Immortal Illumined

        it will help enlighten their brainwashed minds

    • OHDisqusNSA666100

      But Republican and Conservative reasoning gives the Republicans all the cover they need to support hypocrisy on the issue.

  • Nicko Thime

    Push HARDER.

  • Jim

    In 2011 an internal auditor turned in Wachovia Bank for knowingly laundering $378.3 billion in drug money. Wachovia paid a fine of 50 million dollars, which was only 0.01% of the amount that they laundered. Nobody went to jail. There have been similar money laundering cases at other big banks. They only pay fines; nobody ever goes to jail. This shows that the government isn’t really interested in keeping drugs illegal to protect people from drugs. They want to keep it illegal so that wealthy people can make profits on the illegal drug trade. It is interesting to hear what Congressman Ron Paul had to say about marijuana in 1988:

    It is also interesting to hear what he had to say about the possibility that the CIA was using money from illegal drug running to fund illegal off the books operations:

  • Immortal Illumined

    the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13

    ENLIGHTENMENT…i was a brainwashed evil, mean, christian conservative until i tried it at 17 years old…i hated gays, immigrants, women’s rights, blacks, marijuana, i was Rush Limbaugh’s #1 fan….until i smoked marijuana….changed the world

    1000s of my friends and family have grown 30-99 plants for 20 years, thanks for keeping prices high and NORCAL wealthy…#1 crop in cali = $15 Billion Untaxed…

    “any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death” – cali secret 420

    from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

    20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary….nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states and more blacks are in prison then were slaves before the civil war…even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice…no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol…not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

    Deaths by Alcohol: Millions
Deaths by Tobacco: Millions

    Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade
Deaths by Guns: Millions
Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions
Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever…they are killing my American family while denying freedom

    love and freedom forever


  • Megamimi

    Weedanistas are like global warming enthusiasts; unwilling and unable to consider any evidence that they might be wrong in their opinion.

    • teatoker

      if you prohibitionists had any evidence, we would listen, but you don’t, so instead you just pretend you have evidence that marijuana causes health problems, and that we ignore you. your full of it.

      try comming up with some kind of peer reviewed scientific evidence that the science community agrees upon, then you will have evidence worth listening to. until then, you just have bogus studies searching for a problem that doesn’t exist.

      • Megamimi

        April 23, 2014
        American Heart Association

        Marijuana use may result in heart-related complications in young and middle-aged adults. Nearly 2 percent of the health complications from marijuana use reported were cardiovascular related. A quarter of these complications resulted in death, according to a study. Surveillance of marijuana-related reports of cardiovascular disorders should continue and more research needs to look at how marijuana use might trigger cardiovascular events, researchers say.

        • Jason Wright

          Thanks for the explanation captain obvious! 29% of all deaths are caused by cardiovascular issues.

        • KingVenus

          This is interesting and thanks for trying but “May” and “According to a study” doesn’t support factual data.

        • Sko Hayes

          The conclusion to the study is that more study needs to be done, as correlation doesn’t equal causation.

          A small percentage of middle aged men with heart or vascular problems had problems after smoking marijuana.

          Let’s compare this to long term use of alcohol and heart disease, shall we?

          Long term use of alcohol can increase the risk of high blood pressure. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol causes raised blood pressure which is one of the most important risk factors for having a heart attack or a stroke.

          Heavy drinking weakens the heart muscle, which means the heart can’t pump blood as efficiently.

          Binge drinking can make your heart beat irregularly.

          Everything in moderation.

        • kevin_hunt

          Investigators specifically searched a French database where physicians are legally bound to report any drug-related case that they view as “leading to temporary or permanent functional incapacity or disability, to inpatient hospitalization or prolongation of existing hospitalization, to congenital anomalies, or to an immediate vital risk or death.”

          They then looked for cannabis users and found a shade less than 2,000 in the past 5 years. It’s impossible to know what that number means without knowing the number of people these physicians saw or how many patients used cannabis and did not end up reported to this database.

          They then found a whopping 35 of these who had cardiac complications. It is impossible to know what to make of this number without knowing the number of cannabis users in France, which the authors report is 1.2 million. If you divide 35 by 1.2 million you get roughly .00003. I’m guessing that not all these cannabis users went to the doctor and not every person who used cannabis and had cardiac complications fessed up to the doctor, so let’s say that we’re off by two orders of magnitude. Let’s give the prohibitionists the benefit of the doubt and multiply by 100. That’d put the rate of problems up to .003.

          If those are the chances of having cardiac complications as a French cannabis user, my first thought is that using cannabis protects people from cardiac problems. We need a comparison group of people who don’t use cannabis to know their rate of cardiac problems, but, as the authors point out, we simply don’t have those data. The closest estimates were 57 per 10,000 people, based on another study, which is .0057, or almost twice as bad as the rate among the cannabis users.

          Source: Dr. Mitch Earlywine, M.D.

      • Megamimi

        And as before, your inability to accept, digest, contemplate and discuss research reported on about the negative, long term effects of marijuana use proves my original hypothesis.

    • teatoker

      global warming deniers are going against 97% of scientists. no scientist would make the claim that marijuana has been proven to cause health problems beyond short term, completely reversible, only while your high, memory loss.

      • Megamimi

        Brain changes

        one of two new studies, researchers collected MRI scans on young adults
        who casually use marijuana as well as on those who report no marijuana
        use. Various brain measurements were analysed, including grey matter
        density, brain volume and shape.

        Read: Dagga shrinks the brain

        The researchers found that marijuana users had greater grey matter
        density extending through various parts of the brain than those who did
        not use marijuana. The authors concluded that even casual recreational
        use of marijuana is associated with changes in the brain.

        Heart problem link

        In a second new study, researchers evaluated the potential link between casual marijuana use and heart problems.

        reports of spontaneous heart problems related to marijuana use
        collected by a French agency from 2006 to 2010 were identified. The
        researchers found that of the 1979 marijuana-related problems reported,
        35 were cases of heart complications and 9 resulted in death. The authors concluded that marijuana should be further reviewed as a potential risk factor for heart problems.

        • AntiIgnorant

          Correlative studies prove nothing… they only suggest something.

          Try providing something that has actually been proven… not suggested. It is cute to watch you flounder like this.

          • Megamimi

            Nothing anyone could say or write will ever be considered enough by you or other weedanistas who cannot and will not accept anything that suggests that you might be inflicting substantial harm to your brain and your body. I suggest that you might want to read the National Institutes of Health (NIH) January 2014 report published by the NIDA documenting the short and long term effects of both casual and medical marijuana with an open mind and consider that the substance you so dearly hold to as benign and all good may not be either. But of course, you will persist in your opaque, myopic viewpoint, and so I leave you to it.

          • AntiIgnorant

            It comes down to a simple truth. Alcohol is legal and marijuana is not. That, my friend, is utter hypocrisy. Undisputed fact, alcohol is more dangerous.

            There is no reason, unless criminally motivated, that government continues to keep it classified as the most dangerous within the drug schedules.

            It’s a plant, that people can grow themselves easily, where’s the money in that? Exactly! Now, we’ve reached the heart of the issue.

          • kevin_hunt

            NIDA exists for the sole reason to maintain marijuana prohibition. It’s not an unbiased source.

        • kevin_hunt

          Reaction to the Northwestern/Harvard [MRI] Research findings ranged from outright condemnation to support for the initial findings. Computational biologist Lior Pachter, a professor at the University of California, posted a blog concerning what he considers to be flaws in the study, and later told the Huffington Post that the study “reeks of dishonesty.”

          Gregory Gerdeman, a biologist and neuropharmacologist at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., also noted that the study might have been unduly influenced by its funding agencies, which included the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “If you’re getting money from the drug czar’s office, that money’s not going to continue if you don’t end up publishing something that at least supports the general story of the danger of drug use,” said Gerdeman.

      • Megamimi

        Your comment proves my original statement.

    • kevin_hunt

      Perhaps you would like to explain why the DEA claims that hempseed foods are a ‘schedule I narcotic’? Do you have any credible scientific evidence to suggest that ANYONE has been harmed by hemp foods?

  • Jack Reacher

    Obama’s ideology is marxism.

  • knowa1

    Is there no end to the lie and evil that the DEA has done is doing and will do to keep the drug war fraud cash cow. Marijuana today would not pass schedule #1 criteria

  • AntiIgnorant

    Marijuana is safer than alcohol, tobacco and pharma drugs all of which are legal. Stop the madness. Legalize it!

    Spend our tax dollars policing things that matter like violent crime. Stop wasting my money.

  • Jose

    This vote separated the supporters of freedom from the supporters of tyranny. As a result, we have a clean list of who the enemies are.

  • Alan8

    I’ve been expressing my contempt for the BIPARTISAN oppression of marijuana users over the last several DECADES by voting GREEN PARTY.

    The Green Party has been calling for marijuana legalization from the beginning.

    My Green votes send a message to the corporate parties about the values I’ll vote for (e.g. ), and this message is sent even if the Greens I vote for don’t win.

    VOTE GREEN 2014!

  • Albert Leviation

    Obama’s delusions are dangerous.

  • Jon Kahr

    In this YouTube video we have the Liar-in-Chief, Hussein Obama, claiming that he will magically stop the oceans from rising:

  • Impasto

    Wasserman Schultz, has recently stated that, she does not want marijuana falling into the wrong hands. What she meant was, she does not want it falling into the hands of the sick, the elderly, and those whom have partaken in this natural gift from nature, without it first being in the hands of; the pharmaceutical industry, the DEA, the liquor industry, and whomever else has lobbied her to keep it illegal, until they get positioned to take control of it, once it is legalized.
    She is a disgrace as a human being, not just as a second rate, loud politician.
    Vote her out.

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