Harris Thwarting Democracy Again, Say Medical Marijuana Protesters

SARASOTA– At 2:00 pm today, medical marijuana protesters are gathering at a local Congressional office demanding an end to the federal government's refusal to respect state laws and the will of the people. They are denouncing Rep. Katherine Harris’ vote to continue federal arrests of medical marijuana patients.
Local patients will be joined at her office by national medical marijuana leaders, a juror who had a change of heart after a high-profile federal trial, and family members of a man serving a ten-year sentence for helping the sick and suffering.

“Katherine Harris is again denying the will of the people and disenfranchising voters by putting patients in prison and taking away their right to vote,” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, a national medical marijuana advocacy group. “The vast majority of Americans say patients deserve compassion, not prison. Yet Congresswoman Harris wants them in jail, not the voting booth.”
Congresswoman Harris was among those voting late Wednesday to continue the federal arrest and prosecution of patients and their caregivers in states that allow the medical use of marijuana. The House measure she helped defeat was the bi-partisan Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment to the Commerce-Justice-State Departments Appropriations bill, which would have eliminated funding for federal investigations or prosecutions of patients and caregivers in the 11 states that allow the medical use of marijuana – Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Washington – and now Vermont.

Joining local patients will be Marney Craig, a disgruntled juror from last year’s high-profile Ed Rosenthal medical marijuana trial in San Francisco, as well as the Ashley Epis, the 10-year-old daughter of Bryan Epis, a medical marijuana patient serving a ten-year federal sentence. Leading the event will be Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, and Hilary McQuie, the organization’s campaign director. A national coalition of 10,000 patients, doctors and advocates, Americans for Safe Access is the largest organization working solely on medical marijuana. All will be available to speak with the media.
Substantial majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents support medical marijuana. A 2002 Time/CNN poll found that 80% of Americans support it. The Institute of Medicine has determined that nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety 'all can be mitigated by marijuana.' Allowing cancer, AIDS, and MS patients legal access to medical marijuana is supported by the American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, American Bar Association, and Kaiser Permanente, among other groups.
WHEN: TODAY, Monday, July 12, 2004, 2:00-3:00 pm
WHERE:  Office of U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, 1991 Main Street, Suite 181, Sarasota, FL 34236  
WHO: Florida medical marijuana activists and national leaders from Americans for Safe Access
WHAT: Medical Marijuana demonstration and press event asking for action in Congress
For interviews or more information, contact William Dolphin at (510) 919-1498. A national coalition of 10,000 patients, doctors and advocates, Americans for Safe Access is the largest organization working solely on medical marijuana.