Today, May 28, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives will debate and vote on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations funding bill (H.R. 4660). This bill provides funding for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Amendments are expected to be offered that would bar the Department from spending any funds to enforce federal laws related to marijuana in states that have passed medical marijuana initiatives. Those states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
If passed, the amendments would prohibit all federal enforcement efforts related to marijuana in medical marijuana states. Such amendments would seriously damage federal enforcement efforts at a time when all law enforcement agencies are working to prevent diversion to youth, trafficking to other states, and increased criminal activity. In addition, the divide on enforcement between federal and state and local law enforcement causes confusion for law enforcement officers.
It is clear that the passage of these amendments and the forced “stand down” of federal enforcement efforts will have clear and foreseeable negative consequences for the communities we serve.
In May of 2013, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released a report showing that marijuana is the most common drug found in the systems of individuals arrested for criminal activity.
We also know that there has been an increase in the number of drugged driving incidents since the legalization of marijuana in many states. Currently there are over 8,000 drugged driving deaths a year, many of which involved marijuana use. These incidents will likely only increase without the assistance of our federal partners in enforcing important marijuana laws. The passage of these amendments will also make it easier for traffickers to go across state lines with marijuana to sell to others.
Unfortunately, unless your Member of Congress hears from you these amendments have a very real chance of passing. I ask that you call your Member of Congress and send them a letter of opposition. It is imperative that members of Congress hear directly from the law enforcement community that these amendments would undermine the ability of federal agencies to enforce federal marijuana laws when necessary, which in return negatively effects state and local enforcement efforts.
You can reach your Representative by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121. You should ask to speak directly to your Member or their legislative director/legislative assistant that handles criminal justice and justice related appropriations issues. You can also send a letter to your member by clicking here. If you wish, you can personalize it with examples from your own community and experiences.