Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

SamFarrNewYou recently signed a letter, along with six other congressional representatives, to President Barack Obama questioning the federal crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries. What was your message for the president? What do you hope he will do in this regard?

Our message is simple: President Obama has the opportunity and authority to reschedule marijuana as a Schedule II or III drug administratively, or he can support the adoption of legislation that would change federal stature to achieve the same goal.

The voters of California decided to allow their neighbors to have the right to legitimately use medical marijuana. They decided that people suffering from serious illnesses and conditions should have safe access to the doctor- prescribed medication they need, in this case medical marijuana.

In 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder issued formal guidelines for federal prosecutors to not focus federal resources on such states that have adopted clear medical marijuana laws. Despite this guidance, federal prosecutors have targeted medical marijuana dispensaries, landlords and property owners that are operating in accordance with California state law. These actions are of concern, and they need to be addressed.

Medical marijuana has been and continues to be recommended by physicians to alleviate a number of serious illnesses and medical conditions that have not responded to other medications and treatments. A return to the old policies will see the federal government push legitimate patients back into the uncertainty and danger of the illicit market.

We have seen this before. Seriously ill patients will seek their medication however they can. It is simply unconscionable for the Department of Justice to use its limited resource to endanger the lives of patients who are simply seeking to ease their suffering.

During his presidential campaign, President Obama repeatedly gave hope to patients who legitimately use medical marijuana to treat their conditions that their long struggle to safely access their medicine was finally over. Now, the President has a responsibility to keep his word to end federal raids against individuals and collectives that are operating under state law to provide medical marijuana to patients.

This change in federal marijuana policy would give patients and physicians the clarity and respect they deserve, and would certainly eliminate the ambiguity that now clouds the legitimate role of the federal government in this area.

What are your thoughts about U.S. plans

to pull troops out of Iraq by the end of the year?

I wish this day would have come much sooner, but I welcome the news from President Obama that our brave men and women serving in Iraq will be reunited with their families just in time for the holidays. Our troops have been asked to remain in Iraq for too long, and I look forward to their return in the swiftest, safest possible manner.

It has been a long eight years in Iraq, which has taken a heavy toll on our service members and their families. We have lost lives that have left young families without fathers and mothers, parents without children, and our nation without some of our heroes.

The Iraq War also forced our nation to divert limited resources from the conflict in Afghanistan, and wavered the strong unity and support of our partners to face a post-9/11 world. As a further consequence, our nation racked up an expensive bill for waging this misguided war that today has added more than $800 billion to our nation’s deficit.

After close to nine years of war in Iraq—and close to a decade of fighting in Afghanistan—it has become crystal clear that military might alone cannot secure peace. Diplomatic and humanitarian interventions are cost-effective, proven ways to decrease the duration of conflict, bring lasting security to war-torn areas, and minimizes the devastating impacts to our service members.

I never supported the use of military force in Iraq, and I consistently voted against the war since the Bush Administration first deployed troops in 2003, but I did remain committed to supporting our men and women in uniform. And now that they are finally coming home, more than ever, they will need for us to be there to meet them with the benefits and the opportunities they deserve and have earned. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree on the Iraq War; our service members deserve nothing less than our full support.

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