Lawmakers aim at medical-pot ruling

June 14, 2005

Emma Burgin, Orange County Register

Angel Raich, the California woman who became a public face for the legalization of medical marijuana, was in Washington on Tuesday to support an amendment to an appropriations bill that would prohibit the Justice Department from spending taxpayer money on medical-marijuana prosecutions in states that allow its use.

'It is an absolute waste of public funds,' Raich said. 'They will be prosecuting us like criminals even though we're sick.'

Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, and Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., proposed the one-sentence amendment Tuesday in response to last week's Supreme Court ruling that deemed it constitutional for Congress to prohibit the cultivation and use of medical marijuana in California and the 10 other states allowing such activity.

'It is a travesty for the federal government to step in and override a state law that would permit this activity,' Rohrabacher said. 'The people of the states have a right to make this decision.'

California legalized medical marijuana in 1996 through a statewide referendum. The practice was upheld as legally protected by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2002, which prohibited the Bush administration from prosecuting Raich and her suppliers, who grow about 8 pounds of cannabis each year for her at no charge.

Raich suffered an allergic reaction in 1995 to birth control. Since then, she's been diagnosed with a multitude of medical conditions, including an inoperable brain tumor.

Restricted to a wheelchair in 1996, Raich was not able to keep down any synthetic drugs. Her doctor then recommended medical marijuana, which Raich said has restored her appetite and helped her manage chronic pain.

'It has restored my mobility,' she said. 'When I get out of the bed in the morning, I can't move without cannabis.'

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