House rejects medical use for marijuana

June 15, 2005

Associated Press, Chicago Tribune

WASHINGTON -- The House on Wednesday voted down an attempt to undercut a Supreme Court decision of less than a week ago that the government can prosecute medical marijuana users, even when state laws permit doctor-prescribed use of the drug. By a 264-161 vote, the House said no to an amendment that would have blocked the Justice Department from prosecuting people in the 10 states where the practice is legal.

Advocates of medical marijuana use say it is the only way that many chronically ill people can relieve their symptoms.

'It is unconscionable that we in Congress could possibly presume to tell a patient that he or she cannot use the only medication that has proven to combat the pain . . . associated with a devastating illness,' said Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.)

Opponents of the amendment said it would undercut efforts to combat marijuana abuse. They said Marinol, a government-approved prescription drug that contains the active ingredient in marijuana, offers comparable relief.

'Marijuana has never been proven as safe and effective for any disease,' said Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.)

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