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The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is running two new 30-second TV advertisements on MSNBC, CNN, and HLN in eastern Washington every day this week. The ads draw attention to the Kettle Falls 5 case--a federal prosecution against patients lawfully growing for their own personal use--and spotlight how Members of Congress voted last month on a House measure to curb this type of federal medical marijuana enforcement.
One of the ads focuses on Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), who grew up in Kettle Falls and now represents the same district where defendant Larry Harvey lives. On May 30th, Rep. McMorris Rodgers voted against a bipartisan measure that would protect her constituents by restricting Department of Justice (DOJ) spending on enforcement in states that have legalized medical marijuana. Despite Washington's 16-year-old medical marijuana law and the questionable enforcement practices occurring in her own district, McMorris Rodgers has consistently opposed medical marijuana reform in Congress.
The other ad praises Congressman Doc Hastings (R-WA), one of 49 House Republicans who voted in favor of restricting DOJ enforcement in medical marijuana states. Hastings reversed his stance on medical marijuana from previous years, but he will be retiring his seat in eastern Washington at the end of his term. The ad publicly recognizes the Congressman's position, but also encourages voters to find out where the numerous candidates running for Hastings' open seat stand on medical marijuana.
The political advertisements are part of the "Vote Medical Marijuana" campaign which includesVoteMedicalMarijuana.org, an interactive online tool 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 month'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."
In addition to this week's ads in Washington State, ASA recently ran ads spotlighting Members of Congress in Florida and Maryland. The organization is offering to produce similar ads in the other Congressional districts where elected officials voted against restricting DOJ enforcement in medical marijuana states.
"VoteMedicalMarijuana.org will educate supporters about casting their ballot for candidates who have their best interests in mind," said Sherer. For more than a decade, polls have consistently shown that more than 80 percent of Americans support medical marijuana. Unfortunately, such popular support is not commonly reflected in the way that Congress votes on this issue. Advocates hope VoteMedicalMarijuana.org will help reverse this political contradiction.