In short: Gephardt voted for a 1998 U.S. Senate resolution condemning state efforts to legalize medical use of marijuana. Gephardt gets an “F” grade for refusing to pledge an end to the Bush administration’s cruel and heartless raids on medical marijuana patients.
What Gephardt has done: In 1998, Gephardt voted for H.J.Res. 117, a resolution opposing efforts to legalize marijuana or other Schedule I drugs for medical use. The resolution condemned “efforts to circumvent” the Food and Drug Administration’s drug-approval process via state medical marijuana laws, and it contained language suggesting that medical marijuana laws add to “ambiguous cultural messages about marijuana use [that] are contributing to a growing acceptance of marijuana use among children and teenagers.” The resolution passed by a vote of 310-93. He has neither voted on nor cosponsored other measures specifically addressing medical marijuana.*
What Gephardt has said: At a town hall meeting in Manchester on December 20, broadcast live on C-SPAN, Gephardt was asked if, as president, he would end the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) raids on medical marijuana patients who are acting in compliance with state law. Gephardt responded, “What I’m for is states’ rights to do what they think is right and we should conform federal activity to what states do.” Gephardt was asked, “Does that mean you’ll stop the raids, Congressman?” Gephardt replied, “I gave you the answer.”
At a house party in Manchester on September 1 that was broadcast live on C-SPAN, Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana (GSMM) member Leonard Epstein asked Gephardt if, as president, he would stop Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids on medical marijuana patients in states that allow it for seriously ill people. Gephardt responded by saying “It should be a state issue.” When Epstein persisted, asking, “So, would you stop the raids, then?” Gephardt responded, “That’s what I just said. It should be a state issue, states should determine the policy.”
When GSMM’s Linda Macia told Gephardt at a campaign stop on July 20, “I’m a patient and a medical marijuana advocate. I’m really ill, and I can’t use drugs at all. I’m allergic to narcotics, I need your help. States’ rights for sick people to–,” Gephardt immediately said, “That’s what I’m for…states’ rights.” When asked if he would sign federal legislation to allow seriously ill people to use medical marijuana with their doctors’ approval, he responded, “Sure.”
What Gephardt’s statements mean: Despite the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent ruling that the DEA raids are likely unconstitutional, Gephardt has still refused to pledge an end to the raids. Gephardt’s campaign earlier reneged on a commitment to provide a letter clarifying his position on medical marijuana — one in a series of twists and turns that has concerned seriously ill medical marijuana patients.
*All current members of the House and Senate running for president have voted for District of Columbia appropriations bills that included anti-medical marijuana provisions, but there was never a separate vote on any such amendment.