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Press Release

For Immediate Release
Monday, July 20, 2009

Libertarians, Barr applaud repeal of "Barr amendment"

WASHINGTON -- Last week's passage of a House appropriations bill without a rider prohibiting the District of Columbia from implementing the results of a 1998 referendum legalizing marijuana for medical purposes is applauded by Libertarians, namely the author of the original amendment itself.

Known as the “Barr Amendment,” the rider was first enacted in 1998 to prevent the District from honoring the results of “Initiative 59,” legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.  Sponsored by then-Congressman Bob Barr, it requires “none of the funds contained in the Appropriations Act may be used to conduct any ballot initiative which seeks to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties” for marijuana use.

Barr has since renounced the amendment and was the Libertarian Party’s 2008 presidential nominee.  Barr has sought to repeal the rider and the House of Representatives last week passed an appropriations bill without it.  If passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Obama, the District could implement the results of Initiative 59.

“Last week’s vote by the House of Representatives lifting the 11-year old prohibition on the District of Columbia from taking steps to pass and implement any measure decriminalizing or legalizing the sale or use of marijuana in the District, represents an important step in the direction of individual freedom and properly limiting the power of the federal government,” said Barr in a statement released by his office.
 
“While I in fact sponsored the initial appropriations limitation in 1998, the years since then have witnessed such a dramatic increase in federal government power and an unprecedented decrease in individual liberty, especially since 2001, that I have come to realize that such limitations as the so-called “Barr Amendment” are not and cannot be justified.  It has become necessary to reevaluate the power of the federal government that I and others once were able or willing to justify, and do what we can to roll back the tide of government control.
 
“I have applauded also the indications by Attorney General Eric Holder to begin easing federal efforts against individuals in states that have moved to decriminalize or legalize the use of marijuana, and the fresh approach to the federal anti-drug effort as articulated earlier this year by Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (the so-called “Drug Czar”),” said Barr.

For more information on this issue, or to arrange an interview with the Libertarian Party, please call Director of Communications Donny Ferguson at 703-200-3669 or 202-333-0008, x. 225, or email Donny.Ferguson@lp.org.

The Libertarian Party is America's third-largest political party, founded in 1971 as an alternative to the two main political parties.  You can find more information on the Libertarian Party by visiting http://www.LP.org. The Libertarian Party proudly stands for smaller government, lower taxes and more freedom.

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