On Behalf of Young Virginian Battling Illness, Congresswoman Elaine Luria Fights for Compassionate Marijuana Laws

September 20, 2019
Press Release
Lawmaker Advocates for 10-Year-Old Hampton Girl with Brain Cancer

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02) today told the story and described the struggles of a young Hampton girl with brain cancer as she pushed the House Judiciary Committee to take up sensible and compassionate legislation on marijuana policy.

The hearing was an opportunity for members of the House of Representatives to highlight issues of importance to their constituents as the committee continues to move forward on its legislative agenda.

Congresswoman Luria’s prepared remarks to the committee are below. Video can be found HERE.

As the mother of a 10-year-old daughter, I can tell you there is nothing worse than watching your child in pain.

We all want what is best for our children and I trust that the members of this committee share my concern for children suffering from rare or debilitating diseases. 

The unfortunate reality is that our outdated marijuana laws cause chronically ill children to suffer from unbearable bouts of pain every day. Your committee can spare these children from unthinkable agony.

That is why I am here today to encourage the Judiciary Committee to act quickly to advance legislation to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances List. It defies logic, science, and compassion that marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug alongside heroin.

As a mother, I will not stand on the sidelines while our outdated marijuana laws cause an undue hardship on our children and our families. That is why I am here today to make sure my colleagues hear the impact of inaction in reforming our marijuana laws.

Madison is a 10-year-old girl from Hampton, Virginia. When she was just 5 years old, Madison was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer. Only 200 adults and children are diagnosed with this form of cancer every year and the 10-year survival rate is only 20 percent.

Over the last four years, Madison has had multiple major surgeries, severe bouts of pain, and very difficult treatments.

After numerous treatments, Madison’s family began to experiment with cannabis products to make life more bearable for her. And thankfully, it worked! Madison is now able to go to school, play with friends, and do things that most 10-year-old girls do.

I would love to say that this is the end and everyone lived happily ever after. But that is not the case. Our archaic medical marijuana policies prevent Madison from receiving her treatment on a legal basis.

Since cannabis is a Schedule I drug, Madison’s mother could be arrested, have her property seized, or lose her daughter to child protective services. By doing what is best for her daughter, Madison’s mother is risking everything. But she is doing exactly what any mother would do for her child.

Today, I ask you: Aren’t we better than this? Why can’t Congress stand up for children like Madison?

Our marijuana laws are not only out of step with the scientific community, they are out of step with the American people we were sent here to represent. According to a recent poll, 93 percent of Americans support medical marijuana. 

Children like Madison with rare diseases do not have time on their side. I urge the committee to act quickly to advance legislation that de-schedules marijuana so that we can stand up for children like Madison in our communities.

Congresswoman Luria is a supporter of medicinal and responsible adult use of marijuana. Since taking office in January, she has cosponsored several bills that would move the U.S. toward a sensible drug policy.

Congresswoman Luria also is a member of the Cannabis Caucus where she discusses marijuana policy and the benefits of legalization for our society and economy with fellow lawmakers.

She believes that legalizing marijuana would ease the burden on law enforcement so they can prioritize responding to and investigating violent crimes rather than spend large amounts of time and resources on nonviolent offenders.

Below is a list of bills that Congresswoman Luria has cosponsored that are related to marijuana:

  • Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019
    • Would decimalize marijuana and allow states to regulate it themselves.  
  • MORE Act
    • Would decriminalize marijuana. expunge convicted offenses for previous marijuana violations and would impose a sales tax on marijuana. 
  • Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act
    • Would prohibit a failed marijuana metabolite test from being used as the sole reason to deny or terminate federal employment for civilian positions at executive agencies if an individual is obeying marijuana laws in his or her state of residence. 
  • Sensible Enforcement of Cannabis Act of 2019
    • Would prohibit the Department of Justice from prosecuting marijuana-related conduct that is legal under state law. 
  • Veterans Equal Access Act
    • Would expand medical cannabis access to military veterans by authorizing VA health care providers to provide recommendations and opinions regarding participation in state marijuana programs. 
  • SAFE Banking Act of 2019
    • Would allow marijuana-related businesses in states with existing regulatory structures to use banking systems.

Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the Vice Chair of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.