Anniversary of Landmark Sentencing Draws National Protests

June 02, 2004

On the anniversary of a landmark federal sentencing, medical marijuana patients and activists across the country are rallying at the offices of members of Congress Friday, demanding an end to federal prosecutions.

One year ago Friday, June 4th, a federal judge in San Francisco let author and medical marijuana grower Ed Rosenthal walk out of his courtroom a free man, despite the federal government’s attempt to incarcerate him for a minimum of ten years. That judge’s decision to discard federal sentencing guidelines because federal law does not recognize medical use but state and local law does, paved the way for a series of similar actions by judges around the country.

But, as more states either pass medical marijuana laws or consider doing so, patients and activists are demanding that Congress act to change the federal law that has prevented seriously ill Americans from following their doctors’ advice to use cannabis.

A coalition of advocacy groups that support legal access to medical marijuana – including Americans for Safe Access, The Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, NORML, and others – are targeting Members of Congress who voted against an amendment last year that would have stopped the federal government from arresting medical marijuana patients in states where marijuana is legal for medical use.  The targeted Representatives are being asked to join their 152 colleagues who voted for the bi-partisan measure.   The amendment failed to pass but is being reintroduced and should come to a vote in July.

Medical marijuana patients and their supporters will be rallying in front of the local offices of Members of Congress, talking to voters, and distributing flyers, as well as holding press events in key districts in California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington state. 

As nationally syndicated talk-show host Montel Williams says in his latest book, in which he describes how marijuana has helped him in his fight against his own MS, “We claim to be a compassionate nation and care about those in need…. here is something that can, without question, help patients who are in pain or depressed, that can prevent us from sitting at home all night suffering silently by ourselves, and all we are asking is to be allowed to use it.”

Numerous public opinion polls reflect a national consensus in support of medical marijuana – up to 80% support – and a rapidly growing body of scientific evidence shows substantial medical benefits for patients battling cancer, MS, AIDS, chronic pain and other afflictions. Legal access to medical marijuana has been endorsed by numerous national organizations, including the American Bar Association, American Public Health Association, American Nurses Association, National Association of Attorneys General, and the California Medical Association. Several countries around the world are allowing marijuana for medical use, including England, the Netherlands, and Canada.

See below for details on national actions and press events. For interviews or more information, contact William Dolphin at (510) 919-1498. A national coalition of 10,000 patients, doctors and advocates, Americans for Safe Access is the largest organization working solely on medical marijuana. 

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June 4th Actions Around the Country

WHAT: Medical marijuana supporters protesting and distributing flyers outside the offices of more than 100 Members of Congress asking them to stop supporting the arrest and incarceration of patients.

WHERE: Local press events in the following seven cities:

Stockton, California
Medical marijuana patients and caregivers will gather outside U.S. Rep. Dennis Cardoza’s (D-CA) district office in Stockton to protest his vote to allow the U.S. Justice Department to continue spending their tax dollars to raid and arrest them. Rep. Cardoza will face Republican challenger Charles Pringle in the November election. 
When:    Friday, June 4, 2004, at 11:15 a.m.
Where: U.S. Rep. Dennis Cardoza’s district office, 445 West Weber Ave., Stockton

Norwich, Connecticut
Protesters will gather outside U.S. Rep. Robert Simmons’ (R-CT) district office to highlight Simmons’ vote to continue spending money to raid and arrest medical marijuana patients. Observers expect that Rep. Simmons may have a tough November re-election campaign. The Democratic challenger will be determined by the result of an August 10 primary. 
When:    Friday, June 4, 2004, at 11:15 a.m.
Where:  U.S. Rep. Robert Simmons’ district office, 2 Courthouse Square, Norwich

Baltimore, Maryland
Protesters will gather outside U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings’ (D-MD) district office to highlight Cummings’ vote to send Maryland patients to federal prison just a couple of months after the Maryland legislature enacted a law keeping medical marijuana patients out of state prison. Rep. Cummings is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and ranking member on the House Government Reform Committee. Rep. Cummings will face Republican challenger Tony Salazar in the November election.
When: Friday, June 4, 2004, at 11:15am
Where: U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings’ district office, 1010 Park Avenue, Baltimore

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Medical marijuana patients and activists will gather outside U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson’s (R-NM) district office in downtown Albuquerque to protest her vote to continue raiding and arresting seriously ill medical marijuana patients and their caregivers. Rep. Wilson is likely to face Democratic challenger, former state Sen. Richard Romero, in what observers say will be a close election. 
When:    Friday, June 4, 2004, at 11:15 a.m.
Where:  U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson’s district office, 20 First Plaza NW, Albuquerque

Portland, Oregon
Medical marijuana patients and activists from around the Portland area will gather outside U.S. Rep. David Wu’s (D-OR) district office in Portland to emphasize his vote to allow the U.S. Justice Department to continue spending tax dollars to raid and arrest his constituents. Rep. Wu will face Republican challenger Goli Ameri in what observers expect will be a hotly contested race.
When:    Friday, June 4, 2004, at 11:15 a.m.
Where:  U.S. Rep. David Wu’s district office, 620 SW Main St., Portland

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Protesters will gather outside U.S. Rep. Joe Hoeffel’s (D-PA) Senate campaign headquarters in downtown Philadelphia to highlight Hoeffel’s vote to continue spending money to raid and arrest medical marijuana patients in the medical marijuana states. Rep. Hoeffel will face U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) in the November general election. 
When:    Friday, June 4, 2004, at 11:15 a.m.
Where:  U.S. Rep. Joe Hoeffel’s Senate campaign headquarters, 1528 Walnut St., Philadelphia

Bellevue, Washington
Medical marijuana patients and activists will gather outside U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt’s (R-WA) Senate campaign office in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue to protest Nethercutt’s opposition to medical marijuana. Rep. Nethercutt will face U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) in the November general election. 
When:    Friday, June 4, 2004, at 11:15 a.m. 
Where:  U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt’s Senate campaign headquarters, 330 112th Ave. NE, Bellevue



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