Every year since 2003, Reps. Hinchey, Rohrabacher, Paul and I have brought an amendment to the House Floor that causes our opponents to accuse us of trying to legalize pot or provide unfettered access to street drugs. The truth is very different of course. In fact, our amendment is ultimately about protecting states rights, specifically the rights of citizens in states that have chosen to legalize the medical use of marijuana.

Often people joke about marijuana, but due process and respecting state laws are serious issues. Medical marijuana is about health care, under a doctor's explicit direction, and compassion for persons suffering from chronic pain or terminal illness - in short, it's about regulated, controlled access. The Hinchey- Rohrabacher-Paul-Farr Amendment to the SSJC Appropriations bill is NOT about legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana. It was simply an attempt to say our federal agents don't need to be in the business of arresting terminally ill patients obeying state laws.

Eleven states and millions of American citizens have voted to make it the law in their states that marijuana is available through prescriptions for health care purposes. Though our amendment received more "aye" votes than ever before, it failed by a vote of 163-259. When we bring it up again next year, hopefully more of our colleagues will stand with us in recognizing the validity of states' rights.