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Last Chance on Medical Marijuana – Act Now!

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An amendment to the Justice Department budget bill is being considered this week which would protect the users of medical marijuana in states which have legalized it from federal prosecution. This is a tiny step forward to help protect those suffering from chronic pain, AIDS, cancer and other conditions which marijuana can treat more safely and effectively than other drugs. They have enough problems without further fear of the DEA arresting them.

This amendment should meet the criteria of Monday’s Supreme Court decision by imposing protection through federal as well as state law. Despite its obvious desirablilty, the amendment may face fierce opposition because some will see it as a foot in the door for further legalization action, despite the fact that it’s really a very limited protection for medical users. The amendment has bi-partisan sponsorship with two Repulicans and two Democrats sponsoring it in the House, but it needs public support as well, to make legislators aware of how badly this law is needed and how important supporting legislation like this is to their constituents. If they don’t hear from you they tend to just listen to what their party bosses tell them and now is the time to shake them out of that complacency.

The amendment is called the ‘States Rights to Medical Marijuana Act’ or the ‘Hinchey-Rohrbacher Amendment’. NORML has provided an excellent form for contacting your representatives, including everyone from the President on down. This form does not include a pre-generated letter, so you’ll have to compose your own. Be sure to include any personal experiences which you can, as well as the name of the bill and your feelings about it and the War on Drugs in general. It also can’t hurt to tell your representative how much you support and admire him for doing such a great job representing you by voting the right way on issues like this – even if it’s generally not true.

This issue is going to be voted on in the next week or so, which makes it very urgent. Because of that you might want to also call your representative. If you don’t know his or her name you can get it from the NORML letter form. Then call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Ask to speak to your Representative or his office by name. Once you get to their office, say something like: “Hi, I’m a constituent from (name your town). I’m calling to urge Congressman (representative’s name) to vote in support of the Hinchey-Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment to the Justice Department spending bill, which is coming up for a vote this week. I would also like him (or her) to send me a letter letting me know how he (or she) voted. This issue is very important to me and I hope he/she will take it seriously so I can continue to give him/her my support.” BTW, Hinchey-Rohrabacher is pronounced Hinchee Roy Bocker. You might want to modify this speech and personalize it a little bit so the staffer takes you a bit more seriously. When I called I started out by asking how my representative was planning to vote on the amendment. That seemed to get the staffer’s attention. You can also try to get through to actually talk to the representative directly. It’s not likely, but also not impossible, especially if you’re active in your local party or have some personal connection or clout. If you try that, be prepared with every bit of information and personal experience you can offer to help convince him.

Note that this amendment is not really a radical step towards drug legalization. It’s very moderate. It would not prevent the DEA from arresting people using, growing, or selling marijuana for recreational use or even from arresting patients for medical marijuana in states that have not approved it. It just stops the federal government from arresting patients who use marijuana in those states which have legalized marijuana for medical use.


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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • RJ

    Great post.

    Congressman Dave Weldon in my district is a solid right-wing Republican. While I agree with him a lot of the time, I also disagree with him on issues like this.

    He’s a medical doctor, but also a conservative Christian. So, I doubt he will change his mind on this issue.

    Still. It is worth the effort to confront our elected Representatives with our opinions on various issues. It can sometimes make the difference.

    And anyway, it’s our right, as well as our duty…

  • Dave Nalle

    It would be really cool to see postings here of what kind of response people who called their congresscritters got. My rep is a quasi-moderate Republican, Mike McCaul, and I might have enough pull to actually talk to him since I was a state GOP convention delegate. I already emailed, but I’m going to follow up with a call on Monday. I’ll report here if anything interesting comes of it.


  • Jose Melendez


    “It would be really cool to see postings here of what kind of response people who called their congresscritters got.”

    Ask and ye shall receive:

    Tuesday morning, I sat down for a meeting on the record with Dick Harkey Congressional aide to John Mica.

    Predictably, he kept putting words in my mouth, repeatedly showed he was not getting the message, and pointed out several times that Mr. Mica was not going to be responsive to what he thought I was saying.

    The obfuscation gave me an inspiration. I politely suggested he pretend for the moment that I was Congressman Mica, and relay what Jose had to say.

    Of course, he again got it wrong, so I asked him to please read aloud from the document I brought as an affidavit.*

    For a couple of paragraphs, he was on autopilot, barely showing any comprehension. But then as he got to the meat of the document, I detected a wince of recognition and visible change in facial color.

    Perhaps it was because it was he who was speaking that he actually heard what was being said.

    I highly recommend any citizen write a polite and brief note to your representative’s office requesting a meeting to discuss the issues. Fax it instead of emailing, they seem to respect that more.

    Dress for church or a funeral, be polite and firmly professional.

    Make sure to ask if they will agree to the conversation being on the record, and then press those record buttons, or at least take simple notes with a pad and pen.

    Stick to the list of talking points you brought (hint, hint), and avoid talking about anything else, or you risk being taken off track and diluting your message. Oh, and only state things you know or honestly believe to be true – don’t guess if you are unsure!

    Remember, these are busy people that do indeed work for you, so treat them with respect. If your employees consider you unreasonable, you’ll get far less productive work from them.

    Ahem! Read those last lines again aloud before a mirror, if necessary..

    Many today have very short attention spans, so once you’ve gotten them to repeat or at least acknowledge that they understand what you are saying, that’s a perfect opportunity to motion to adjourn, as they say.

    To put this another way, once you have the sale, just collect, or you risk losing to buyer’s remorse.

    Certainly, if they have the last word, it is helpful that those words be yours.

    Thank them for their time and be sure to smile and be friendly to everyone on your way out . . .

    Later, transcribe your notes and briefly answer their objections or reiterate your concerns in written, polite and firm ways that encourage them to concede or dispute your points, instead of dismissing them out of hand!

    That’s my opinionated if small contribution to the cause.

    Jose Melendez
    888 247-8183

    To recap:

    1. Tell them what you will tell them,

    2. Tell them what you are telling them,

    3. Tell them what you’ve told them,

    4. Ask them what you’ve told them,

    5. (optional) Try again to get them to Tell you what you’ve told them

    6. Thank them, shake hands and thank them and their staff kindly.

    Wage peace,
    Air Jose

  • Georgio

    Dave..thanks for this post..I have a question and I know you have the answer..What site can we go to that shows daily what bills are being voted on and how they voted..Thanks

  • Dave Nalle

    The site is at and this bill is H.R. 2087.


  • Silas Kain

    Now that H.R. 2087 has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce people living within the districts of Representatives on that committee would do well to contact them in the next week or two.

    Members of the committee are as follows:

    REPUBLICANS: Joe Barton, Texas, Chairman; Ralph M. Hall, Texas; Michael Bilirakis, Florida, Vice Chairman; Fred Upton, Michigan; Cliff Stearns, Florida; Paul E. Gillmor, Ohio; Nathan Deal, Georgia; Ed Whitfield, Kentucky; Charlie Norwood, Georgia; Barbara Cubin, Wyoming; John Shimkus, Illinois; Heather Wilson, New Mexico; John B. Shadegg, Arizona; Charles “Chip” Pickering, Mississippi, Vice Chairman; Vito Fossella, New York; Roy Blunt, Missouri; Steve Buyer, Indiana; George Radanovich, California; Charles F. Bass, New Hampshire; Joseph R. Pitts, Pennsylvania; Mary Bono, California; Greg Walden, Oregon; Lee Terry, Nebraska; Mike Ferguson, New Jersey; Mike Rogers, Michigan; C.L. “Butch” Otter, Idaho; Sue Myrick, North Carolina; John Sullivan, Oklahoma; Tim Murphy, Pennsylvania; Michael Burgess, Texas; Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee

    DEMOCRATS: John D. Dingell, Michigan, Ranking Member; Henry A. Waxman, California; Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts; Rick Boucher, Virginia; Edolphus Towns, New York; Frank Pallone Jr., New Jersey; Sherrod Brown, Ohio; Bart Gordon, Tennessee; Bobby L. Rush, Illinois; Anna G. Eshoo, California; Bart Stupak, Michigan; Eliot L. Engel, New York; Albert R. Wynn, Maryland; Gene Green, Texas; Ted Strickland, Ohio; Diana DeGette, Colorado; Lois Capps, California; Mike Doyle, Pennsylvania; Tom Allen, Maine; Jim Davis, Florida; Jan Schakowsky, Illinois; Hilda L. Solis, California; Charles A. Gonzalez, Texas; Jay Inslee, Washington; Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin; Mike Ross, Arkansas

    Thanks, Dave, for the heads up. You’re a walking public service announcement and I salute you.

  • Tng

    Yo im down wit weed and it helps people so they should go thrwe with da ligalisation….they are just tryna find a way to marke it and make money come’on it sthe goverment…its all they want

  • Dave Nalle

    The latest on this is that the bill is likely to hit the floor for a vote tomorrow. I haven’t heard anything about what might have happened to it in committee.

    BTW, there’s a bit of a confusion in my original article, or at least I now think there is. According to something I read in the Houston Chronicle today the Hinchey-Rohrbacher Amendment and HR 2087 are separate pieces of legislation which say essentially the same thing, one as a stand-alone bill and one as an Amendment. Hinchey-Rohrbacher is apparently farther along in the process and is the one which is likely to be voted on tomorrow.


  • mars

    um, your information is incorrect. hinchey-rohrbacher is being voted on today, which would prevent DEA from spending money on prosecuting MMJ patients and caregivers. it is an amendment to the Science-State-Justice-Commerce Appropriations bill.

    HR2087, or the States Rights to Medical Marijuana Act, is still in committee, seeking more sponsors. this bill would federall reschedule marijuana to schedule II which lists drugs with “recognized medical value”

  • sakibomb

    what’s a good resource to find out what happened today? google news brought me here.