Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, along with over a dozen cosponsors,
reintroduced legislation in Congress today to strengthen legal protections for
state-authorized medical marijuana patients.

The bill, entitled the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act of
, seeks to amend the discrepancy between federal law and the laws
of over a dozen states that have enacted regulations governing the therapeutic
use of cannabis.

Thirteen states – Alaska, California,
Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode
Island, Vermont and Washington – have enacted laws prohibiting medical marijuana
patients from state prosecution. Passage of the the Medical Marijuana
Patient Protection Act would ensure that medical cannabis patients or providers
who are compliant with state law, such as Charles Lynch (who was sentenced today in federal
court), would no longer have to fear arrest or prosecution from federal law
enforcement agencies.

Previous versions of the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act were
introduced in both the 108th and 109th Congress, but failed to receive a public
hearing or a committee vote.

While campaigning for the presidency, Barack Obama promised not to use Justice Department
resources “to try and circumvent state (medical marijuana) laws” — a pledge that
has been repeated in recent months by US Attorney
General Eric Holder. Nevertheless, agents from the US Drug Enforcement
Administration have continued to target medical marijuana
in states that allow for the drug’s use, and federal prosecutors
have continued to bring federal anti-drug
against defendants who were acting in accordance with their state’s
cannabis laws.