Peter Welch on Drugs


Voted NO on more funding for Mexico to fight drugs.

Congressional Summary:Merida Initiative to Combat Illicit Narcotics and Reduce Organized Crime Authorization Act:
    Provide assistance for Mexico for:
  1. counternarcotics and countertrafficking;
  2. port & airport security to assist in controlling the Mexico-US and Mexico-Central America borders;
  3. intelligence gathering operational technology; and
  4. public security and law enforcement, including assistance to the National Council Against Addiction (CONADIC).

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. HOWARD BERMAN (D, CA-28): The drug crisis facing the US remains a top national security threat. This bill represents a new partnership with Mexico and Central American countries to face the immediate security threat of drug gangs, and help these neighbors build the capacity of their law enforcement agencies.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. MICHAEL McCAUL (R, TX-10): We need a strategy on this side of the border: a two-pronged Approach; a comprehensive strategy that deals not only with the Mexican side but with the US side. And for too long, our border sheriffs and our Border Patrol agents have been outmanned and outgunned. And if we are going to provide assistance to Mexico, it seems to me we ought to be providing assistance to our men and women on our side fighting this war every day.

Rep. TED POE (R, TX-2): I am concerned about drugs and violence on the border, but I am also concerned about corruption. In order to gain control of access corridors in the US, drug cartels are hiring hit men from an elite force in Mexico's military. This group is known as the "Zetas." Some of the Zetas are military deserters that may have been trained in the US. $1 billion in this bill would go to Mexico. And Mexico in its arrogance objects to any conditions we want to put on this money. The administration can offer us no assurance that our equipment and training won't be used against us and neither can Mexico.

Reference: Merida Initiative; Bill HR.6028 ; vote number 2008-H393 on Jun 10, 2008

Exclude industrial hemp from definition of marijuana.

Welch co-sponsored Industrial Hemp Farming Act

Sponsor's Remarks:
Rep. PAUL: Nine States allow industrial hemp production or research in accord with State laws. However, Federal law is standing in the way of farmers in these States growing what may be a very profitable crop. Because of current Federal law, all hemp included in products sold in the US must be imported instead of being grown by American farmers. Since 1970, the federal Controlled Substances Act's inclusion of industrial hemp in the "schedule one" definition of marijuana has prohibited American farmers from growing industrial hemp despite the fact that industrial hemp has such a low content of THC (the psychoactive chemical in the related marijuana plant) that nobody can be psychologically affected by consuming hemp.

The US is the only industrialized nation that prohibits industrial hemp cultivation. Industrial hemp is a crop that was grown legally throughout the US for most of our Nation's history. In fact, during World War II, the Federal Government actively encouraged American farmers to grow industrial hemp to help the war effort. It is unfortunate that the Federal Government has stood in the way of American farmers competing in the global industrial hemp market. Indeed, the founders of our Nation, some of whom grew hemp, would surely find that federal restrictions on farmers growing a safe and profitable crop on their own land are inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee of a limited Government.

Source: HR1831/S3501/HR525(2013) 12-S3501 on Aug 2, 2012

Sponsored no federal enforcement against legal state marijuana.

Welch co-sponsored Respect State Marijuana Laws Act

Congressional Summary:The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act: The provisions of [federal law] related to marihuana shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with State laws relating to the production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marihuana.

Proponent's argument for bill: (PolicyMic.com): While the bill does not attempt to legalize the drug in individual states, it would immunize individuals in states taking measures to reform marijuana laws from federal prosecution. Currently, 18 states allow patients with qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana with recommendations from their physicians. Support for the bill arises from not just moral, but practical and financial grounds: The marijuana industry costs U.S. taxpayers roughly $42 billion annually in enforcement costs and lost tax revenues.

Opponent's argument against bill: (USA Today 8/29/13 and the Drug Free America Foundation dfaf.org): The Justice Department will not attempt to challenge state laws that allow for the medical and recreational use of marijuana as long as the drug sales do not conflict with eight new federal enforcement priorities. "We are very disappointed that Eric Holder's not doing his job,'' said the executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation. "It is his job to enforce our nation's laws. He has created what will become a tsunami that will most likely result in far too many young people becoming victims of chemical slavery."

Peter Bensinger, former administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said Holder's action amounted to a violation of the law. "He's not just abandoning the law," Bensinger said, "he's breaking the law; he's putting the people of Washington and Colorado at risk. He's violating the treaty obligations of this country. He's telling the world we don't really follow the law here."

Source: H.R.1523 13-H1523 on Apr 12, 2013

Exempt industrial hemp from marijuana laws.

Welch signed Industrial Hemp Farming Act

Congressional Summary:Amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of "marihuana." Defines "industrial hemp" to mean the plant Cannabis sativa and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a THC concentration of not more than 0.3%.

Argument in favor (Sen. Ron Wyden):

Members of Congress hear a lot about how dumb regulations are hurting economic growth and job creation. The current ban on growing industrial hemp is hurting job creation in rural America and increasing our trade deficit. This bill will end this ridiculous regulation. Right now, the US is importing over $10 million in hemp products--a crop that US farmers could be profitably growing right here at home, if not for government rules prohibiting it. Now, even though hemp and marijuana come from the same species of plant, there are major differences between them. The Chihuahua and St. Bernard come from the same species, too, but no one is going to confuse them.

Argument in opposition (Drug Enforcement Agency):

Argument in opposition (DrugWatch.org 10/30/2013):

Source: S.359/H.R.525 14_H0525 on Feb 14, 2013

Rated 75% by NORML, indicating a pro-legalization stance.

Welch scores 75% National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law

Scoring system for 2014: Ranges from 0% (opposes all forms of marijuana decriminalization) to 75% (supports marijuana decriminalization and legalization).

About NORML (from their website, www.norml.org):

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law's mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to achieve the repeal of marijuana prohibition so that the responsible use of cannabis by adults is no longer subject to penalty. This model is called "decriminalization."

NORML additionally supports the development of a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers could purchase it from a safe, legal and regulated source. This model is referred to as "legalization."

NORML believes that marijuana smoking is not for kids and should only be used responsibly by adults. As with alcohol consumption, it must never be an excuse for misconduct or other bad behavior. Driving or operating heavy equipment while impaired from marijuana should be prohibited.

NORML strongly supports the right of patients to use marijuana as a medicine when their physician recommends it to relieve pain and suffering.

Lastly, NORML supports the right of farmers to commercially cultivate hemp for industrial purposes, such as food and fiber production.

Source: NORML rating on incumbents of 113th Congress 14_NORML on Jan 1, 2014

2012 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Drugs: Peter Welch on other issues:
VT Gubernatorial:
Peter Shumlin
VT Senatorial:
Bernie Sanders
Patrick Leahy

Left 113th Congress, 2013-2014:
AL-1: Jo Bonner(R,resigned)
FL-13:Bill Young(R,deceased)
FL-19:Trey Radel(R,arrested)
IL-2: Jesse L. Jackson(D,convicted)
LA-5: Rodney Alexander(R,resigned)
MA-5: Ed Markey(D,elected)
MO-8: Jo Ann Emerson(R,resigned)
NC-12:Mel Watt(D,appointed)
NJ-1: Rob Andrews(D,investigated)
SC-1: Tim Scott(R,appointed)

Newly-elected special elections 2013-2014:
AL-1: Bradley Byrne(R)
FL-13:David Jolly(R)
FL-19:Curt Clawson(R)
IL-2: Robin Kelly(D)
LA-5: Vance McAllister(R)
MA-5: Katherine Clark(D)
MO-8: Jason Smith(R)
NC-12: Pending Jul.15
NJ-1: Pending Nov.4
SC-1: Mark Sanford(R)
Won primary 2014:
GA-11:Barry Loudermilk(R)
MA-6 :Richard Tisei(R)
TX-4: John Ratcliffe(R)
VA-7: Dave Brat(R)

AL-6 :Gary Palmer(R)
AR-4 :Bruce Westerman(R)
CA-11:Mark DeSaulnier(R)
CA-33:Ted Lieu(D)
CA-35:Norma Torres(D)
CA-45:Mimi Walters(R)
CO-4 :Ken Buck(R)
GA-1 :Buddy Carter(R)
GA-10:Jody Hice(R)
IA-1 :Pat Murphy(D)
MI-4 :John Moolenaar(R)
MI-12:Debbie Dingell(D)
MI-14:Brenda Lawrence(D)
MN-6 :Tom Emmer(R)
NC-6 :Mark Walker(R)
NC-7 :David Rouzer(R)
NJ-12:Bonnie Watson Coleman(R)
NY-4 :Kathleen Rice(D)
OK-5 :Steve Russell(R)
PA-13:Brendan Boyle(D)
TX-36:Brian Babin(R)
UT-4 :Mia Love(R)
VA-8 :Don Beyer(D)

Retiring to run for Senate in 2014:
AR-4: Tom Cotton(R)
CO-4: Cory Gardner(R)
GA-1: Jack Kingston(R)
GA-10:Paul Broun(R)
GA-11:Phil Gingrey(R)
HI-1: Colleen Hanabusa(D)
IA-1: Bruce Braley(D)
LA-6: Bill Cassidy(R)
MI-14:Gary Peters(D)
MT-0: Steve Daines(R)
OK-5: James Lankford(R)
TX-36:Steve Stockman(R)
WV-2: Shelley Moore Capito(R)

Former Reps running for House in 2014:
CA-3: Doug Ose(R)
CA-31:Joe Baca(D)
HI-1: Charles Djou(R)
IL-10:Bob Dold(R)
IL-17:Bobby Schilling(R)
KS-4: Todd Tiahrt(R)
MI-4: Peter Konetchy(R)
MI-14:Hansen Clarke(D)
MS-4: Gene Taylor(D)
MT-0: Denny Rehberg(R)
NH-1: Frank Guinta(R)
NY-11:Vito Fossella(R)
NY-18:Nan Hayworth(R)
OH-7: John Boccieri(D)
PA-13:Marjorie Margolies(D)
TX-23:Francisco Canseco(R)
Lost primary 2014:
GA-11:Bob Barr(R)
MA-6: John Tierney(D)
TX-4: Ralph Hall(R)
VA-7: Eric Cantor(R)
MI-11:Kerry Bentivolio(R)

Retiring to run for State Office in 2014:
AR-2: Tim Griffin(R)
CA-35:Gloria McLeod(D)
ME-2: Mike Michaud(D)
PA-13:Allyson Schwartz(D)
VI-0: Donna Christensen(D)

Retiring effective Jan. 2015:
AL-6: Spencer Bachus(R)
AZ-7: Ed Pastor(D)
CA-11:George Miller(D)
CA-25:Howard McKeon(R)
CA-31:Gary Miller(R)
CA-33:Henry Waxman(D)
CA-45:John Campbell(R)
IA-3: Tom Latham(R)
MI-4: Dave Camp(R)
MI-6: Tom Petri(R)
MI-12:John Dingell(D)
MN-6: Michele Bachmann(R)
NC-6: Howard Coble(R)
NC-7: Mike McIntyre(D)
NJ-3: Jon Runyan(R)
NJ-12:Rush Holt(D)
NY-4: Carolyn McCarthy(D)
NY-21:Bill Owens(D)
PA-6: Jim Gerlach(R)
UT-4: Jim Matheson(D)
VA-8: James Moran(D)
VA-10:Frank Wolf(R)
WA-4: Doc Hastings(R)
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Page last updated: Nov 20, 2014