CA NORML Legislative News

Rep. Farr Announces Medical Marijuana Defense Bill

SACRAMENTO, Feb. 19, 2003. Rep. Sam Farr (D-Santa Cruz) announced that he will introduce legislation creating a medical marijuana defense under federal law.

The bill, which is co-sponsored by two other Californians, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D- Marin) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R - Huntington Beach), is aimed at protecting medical marijuana defendants from unjust prosecution, as seen in the cases of Ed Rosenthal and Bryan Epis.

The bill would allow defendants in federal criminal trials to introduce evidence that their marijuana-related activity was performed for a valid medical purpose under state law. "If a jury finds that a defendant was following state medical marijuana law, then the defendant should not be sent to prison," said Rep. Farr.

Rep. Farr spoke at a press conference where he was personally thanked by the families of Ed Rosenthal and Bryan Epis and jurors from the Rosenthal trial. Attorney General Lockyer, Assemblyman Leno, and Sen. Vasconconcellos also appeared in support of Farr's bill.

Rep. Farr also expressed support for Rep. Barney Frank's "State's Rights to Medical Marijuana Act", which will shortly be re-introduced in Congress. That bill would authorize California and other states to regulate medical marijuana as they see fit and allow it to be grown and distributed without federal interference.

Rep. Farr predicted that his bill would be a "long haul," saying that "Congress is way behind public opinion on this issue." Hearings on medical marijuana have been blocked by the House Republican leadership. Rep. Farr's Republican co-sponsor, Rep. Rohrabacher, said that he thought medical marijuana would be easily approved if members could vote secretly, but that many sympathetic, libertarian-leaning Republicans were afraid of being politically smeared by opponents as supporting legalization of all drugs.

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