SSDP confronts sole congressional voice against medical marijuana

SSDP confronts sole congressional voice against medical marijuana

The American people overwhelmingly support medical marijuana. Nearly every time the voters have been asked to vote on medical marijuana, they have approved it. More than a half dozen state legislatures – from Hawaii to Maine – have passed medical marijuana laws – and over 17 states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana programs.

Yet, as though the calendar on the wall were stuck on 1995, the DEA continues to raid patients, doctors and state-authorized medical marijuana dispensaries in states where medical marijuana is legal. Tens of thousands of patients have lost access to a medicine critical to their fight against cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis or crippling pain.

Not surprisingly, many Members of Congress are deeply opposed to this oppressive action by federal law enforcement that endangers the health of their constituents. Even Democratic Leader (and former Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi has criticized the Obama-Holder Justice Department about its medical marijuana raids.

To stop these raids, leading Members of Congress offered an amendment to the Justice Department spending bill to block the DEA from raiding patients, doctors and medical marijuana dispensaries in medical marijuana states. The amendment was debated on May 9, 2012 in the U.S. House of Representatives. Unfortunately, despite many strong statements by members of Congress in support, the Amendment was defeated in a roll-call vote.

Eight members of Congress representing California, New York, Massachusetts, Colorado, and Tennessee argued thoughtfully about the simple justice and constitutional logic of recognizing the validity of these state laws.  But one member — only one member — stood up to defend the raids, U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA). Wolf, nearly hysterical, brought up almost every myth about marijuana. He even suggested that medical marijuana laws should be compared to laws that would allow sexual trafficking in children!

Students for Sensible Drug Policy, in the long, honorable tradition of world-wide student activism, went to his home turf of Leesburg, VA to call out Rep. Wolf to his constituents and to confront him at the Fourth of July parade as he was campaigning for re-election to a 17th term.

Our plan was to march in the parade, like other citizen and neighborhood groups — but ahead of Rep. Wolf — and pass out leaflets saying that Wolf voted to arrest cancer patients. The leaflets invited voters and parade watchers to ask Rep. Wolf, “Why?”  But we had not signed up in advance to be part of the parade. We had many questions: We were not local- could we still successfully sneak in to the parade somehow?  Would we be booed? Would Wolf supporters try to stop us? Would cops seize our leaflets? Would we get thrown out of the parade? Would we be arrested for crashing the party without an invitation? Did we have a First Amendment right to participate in a Fourth of July parade with a political message?

Watch this short YouTube video to see what happened…