A Humane Opportunity

June 14, 2005

EDITORIAL, Orange County Register

The Supreme Court decided last week that Congress had not overstepped its legitimate powers when it passed the Controlled Substances Act and prohibited the use of marijuana even for medicinal purposes. In the majority opinion, however, you could almost hear the justices pleading with Congress to change the law to something a bit more rational and less onerous.

Early on, the high court noted that '[t]his case is made difficult by respondents' [medical marijuana users Angel Raich and Diane Monson]strong arguments that they will suffer irreparable harm because, despite a congressional finding to the contrary, marijuana does have valid therapeutic purposes.'

The opinion closes on what sounds like a recommendation: 'more important than these legal avenues is the democratic process, in which the voices of voters allied with these respondents may one day be heard in the halls of Congress.'

Today Congress has the chance to answer that plea for common sense.

Reps.  Maurice Hinchey, a New York Democrat, and Dana Rohrabacher, the Huntington Beach Republican, plan to introduce a key amendment to the Department of Justice appropriations bill.  It would prohibit the department from using any funds in its budget to prosecute people who use marijuana medicinally in states that have passed medical marijuana laws.

This is a responsible use of Congress' power of the purse to influence policy, in this case in a direction approved by the vast majority of all the constituents, Republican and Democrat alike, who elected these House members.

Every national poll shows that between 60 percent and 75 percent of Americans support allowing the medicinal use of marijuana.

The most recent Mason-Dixon poll showed 68 percent of voters believe medical marijuana patients should not be arrested.

Congress should show its respect for sound science and the considered wishes of voters and legislators in 11 states by passing the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment. 

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