In a little over a week, we the voters will elect representatives who will make momentous, sometimes life-or-death decisions on our behalf. As a patient and advocate of medical marijuana, I am motivated this election by strong, bipartisan support for this medicine -- up to 80 percent in recent polls. If you are part of the majority of Americans who support cannabis access for medical purposes, you don't need to be in the three states with an initiative on the ballot to weigh in. My organization, Americans for Safe Access, has created a tool that allows you to make your vote for Congress a vote for medical marijuana, by grading members of Congress on their record on this issue: VoteMedicalMarijuana.org.
Based on their record since 1997, VoteMedicalMarijuana.org grades Members of Congress up for reelection on a pass/fail basis. Those who have generally voted for access to medical cannabis pass, and those who generally vote against it fail. For example, the 72 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of Republicans who voted this May in favor of de-funding Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids in medical cannabis states pass, and those who voted against it, fail. VoteMedicalMarijuana.org also identifies key champions of medical marijuana with the "honor roll" distinction, reserved for co-sponsors of important legislation that protects state medical marijuana laws.
Our Congressional Representatives are our voice in Washington. By voting for representatives who favor access, you are shaping public policy. In just the last two years, medical marijuana supporters have been key to statewide races, defeating Steve Cooley in his race for Attorney General in California, and electing Ellen Rosenblum as Attorney General of Oregon. Since Congress holds the key to granting medical cannabis access nationwide, supporters need to know whether or not their representative is on their side.
You may have read about the federal lawsuit ASA v DEA that was recently heard by the Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. We are excited and optimistic that the courts will recognize the medical value of marijuana and force the government to properly reclassify it. Once this is achieved, Congress can get to work on developing the comprehensive public health policy that every patient deserves. It is Congress that funds the aggressive federal enforcement campaigns against state law-abiding medical cannabis facilities. And it is Congress that has the power to let patients use a currently prohibited "medical marijuana" defense in federal criminal trials. Your vote for your Congressperson -- and every American outside of my hometown of D.C. has one -- can be a vote for a sensible medical marijuana policy.
If you care about medical cannabis access, please visit VoteMedicalMarijuana.org before you cast your vote. This information is based on the Congressional record, but it is not comprehensive. If you don't see your Congressional, State Legislature or City Council race on this list, we invite you to ask the candidates yourself, and share their responses with us.
Voters in Arkansas, Massachusetts and Montana have the opportunity to vote for state medical marijuana laws, but voters in every state can and should weigh in on medical marijuana policy. Don't let your vote be ignored, and Vote Medical Marijuana on November 6th!