ALG condemns Committee Vote on FDA Regulation of Medical Marijuana, Calls Upon Senate to Enact Coburn Amendment

June 2nd, 2009, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today condemned the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions for failure to pass an amendment which would have placed medical marijuana under the same US Food and Drug Administration regulation under which Congress is considering placing tobacco.

“This vote proves out and out that Senate Democrats are not concerned about health at all. Both tobacco and marijuana are weeds, both are smoked, both are carcinogenic, and yet the Senate Committee on Health has seen fit to propose placing tobacco under FDA regulation while shielding marijuana from similar government control,” said Wilson.

“Senator Tom Coburn deserves credit for exposing the smoky duplicity of the Senate Committee on Health,” Wilson added.

The amendment, sponsored by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), would have required that states, should they decide to decriminalize marijuana or allow it for medical purposes, regulate it on the same grounds as tobacco.

Wilson called upon the Senate to enact the Coburn amendment on the floor of the body. “Every member of the Senate must decide if what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

According to Senator Coburn, speaking in committee, “[A]ll this amendment does is say we’re going to do the same thing with marijuana that we’re going to do with cigarettes—we’re going to run it through the FDA and if in fact we’re going to utilize it, then we ought to make sure it’s safe and efficacious.”

In a 13-10 party line vote, the committee’s Democrats—and lone Independent—rejected the amendment.

Voicing his disapproval of the vote, Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson said, “The Coburn amendment has effectively revealed the Democrats at their most hypocritical. Congress and Big Government Washington bureaucrats are moving to criminalize tobacco while simultaneously legalizing marijuana.”

Wilson added, “The real aim of placing tobacco under FDA control is ultimately prohibition. It’s time we call this what it is—a move towards prohibition.”

The thirteen Senators who voted “No” on the Coburn amendment are Chris Dodd (D-CT), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Robert Casey Jr. (D-PA), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Chris Dodd and Jack Reed have received praise from groups on the left for their efforts to defeat the amendment.

“Any student of history understands that prohibition triggers more crime and more wasted government resources,” Wilson said. “Although it failed in committee, the Coburn amendment succeeded in revealing Democrats’ duplicitous nature regarding tobacco regulation and ultimate prohibition.”

“America does not need another era of prohibition,” Wilson concluded.

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