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Patient advocates are producing ads in an effort to educate public, hold federal policymakers accountable
The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is running 30-second TV advertisements on MSNBC in Maryland and South Florida over the next few days to draw attention to Members of Congress who opposed medical marijuana reform in last week's House vote.
One of the ads focuses on Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), who spoke out on the House floor against a measure that restricts Justice Department funds spent on medical marijuana enforcement in states that have legalized its use. Despite the recent passage of a medical marijuana law in his State of Maryland, Rep. Harris made the claim Friday that "Marijuana is neither safe nor legal."
The other ad focuses on Democratic National Committee Chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who was one of only 18 House Democrats to vote against the medical marijuana measure last week. Notably, Rep. Wasserman Schultz voted contrary to several other Democrats in her South Florida delegation. A recent poll indicated 88 percent support for medical marijuana among residents of Florida, which is expected to pass its own medical marijuana law before the end of the year.
The political advertisements are part of the "Vote Medical Marijuana" campaign, which includes an interactive online tool (VoteMedicalMarijuana.org) that provides voting statistics and a report card for each Members of Congress. A project of ASA, VoteMedicalMarijuana.org provides details not only on last week's vote, but also on other medical marijuana-related measures like the recent House budget amendment that would have allowed Veterans Affairs physicians to recommend medical marijuana to their patients.
"The 'Vote Medical Marijuana' campaign will help the public better understand how their Member of Congress votes on these issues so they can use that information when they go to the ballot box," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "Our elected representatives in Congress are making policy decisions on medical marijuana that affect millions of patients in the U.S." ASA is offering to produce similar advertisements in the other Congressional districts where elected officials voted against the budget amendment to restrict DOJ enforcement in medical marijuana states.
"VoteMedicalMarijuana.org will better educate supporters in casting their ballot for candidates who have their best interests in mind," said Sherer. For more than a decade, polls have shown that 80 percent of Americans support medical marijuana. Unfortunately, such popular support is not reflected in the way that Congress votes on this issue. Advocates hope that VoteMedicalMarijuana.org will help change that political conflict.
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