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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Niki Tsongas, US Congress (MA) emails the King of Pot

    From: "Representative Niki Tsongas"
    Date: March 14, 2013, 2:14:07 PM EDT
    To: Michael Malta (AKA The King of Pot)
    Subject: Responding to your message

    Dear Mr. Malta:

    Thank you for contacting my office regarding state and federal marijuana laws. I appreciate your views and having the benefit of your opinion.

    On November 6th 2012, Massachusetts residents voted yes on a ballot question to authorize the use of medical marijuana. I, along with a majority of Americans, support making marijuana available for medicinal purposes for sick patients who truly need it. Numerous studies suggest that marijuana has medical value in treating patients with serious illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and chronic pain. It is important that we continue to develop an understanding of the effects of medical marijuana and work to ensure proper control of its use as opposed to criminalizing patients for receiving effective medical treatment.

    18 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana and four states have pending legislation to legalize medical marijuana. However, the United States Supreme Court has ruled in United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Coop and Gonzales v. Raich that the federal government has a right to regulate and criminalize marijuana usage, even for medical purposes. A person can therefore be prosecuted for a marijuana-related crime even if it is medical marijuana that is legal according to the laws of a particular state.

    As a result, we are going to have to figure out a way to reconcile state and federal law as more states make their support for medical marijuana known. As you mention in your letter, there were several pieces of legislation introduced in the 112th Congress that hope to change the way that medical marijuana dispensaries are treated at the federal level. H.R. 6134, the Truth in Trial Act, would allow any person being federally prosecuted for a marijuana related defense to prove that their actions were protected under state law. HR. 1983, the States' Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to begin the process of recommending that marijuana not be classified as a Schedule I or II substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). H.R. 1984, the Small Business Banking Improvement Act of 2011 would allow banks to accept deposits from state-certified medical marijuana dispensaries, without reporting them as suspicious transactions. And, H.R. 1985, Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2011 would allow legal medical marijuana dispensaries to write off business expenses as tax deductions. I will keep your thoughtful views in mind and their potential impact on the Commonwealth should these pieces of legislation be reintroduced in the 113th Congress. 

    Thank you again for taking the time to be in touch. Please do not hesitate to contact my office in the future with questions or concerns.


    Niki Tsongas
    Member of Congress   




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