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Washington, D.C.– For the first time in five years, the U.S. House of Representatives is voting on the right of states to regulate the medical marijuana issue, an issue that has increasingly pitted the state of California and nine others against the Bush Administration.
The bi-partisan Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment to the Commerce-Justice-State Departments Appropriations bill (HR 2799) would eliminate funding for federal investigations or prosecutions of patients and providers in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Washington -- and now Maryland – the states that allow the sick and dying to use the medicinal herb.
While the increasing public pressure may persuade Congress to stop targeting and imprisoning our most vulnerable citizens, Americans for Safe Access believes the very scheduling of a vote is a victory for patients’ rights and states’ rights, in that the same amendment failed to make it to the floor in the last session but now enjoys bipartisan support, with sponsors from both sides of the aisle (Maurice Hinchey, D-NY; Dana Rohrabacher, R-CA; Ron Paul, R-TX; Jerrold Nadler, D-NY).
Since October, 2002 the Bush Administration has pursued an aggressive policy of targeting patients and providers, primarily in California, despite the voter initiatives legalizing it in that and several other states and polling that shows 80% of Americans support legal access for patients helped by medical marijuana.
But there are no signs of the Administration backing down. The Bush Administration has recently decided to appeal the widely applauded one-day sentence of medical marijuana grower Ed Rosenthal and is now asking the Supreme Court to allow them to punish any doctors who recommend medical marijuana to patients, regardless of state laws.
Nonetheless, many politicians have begun to join doctors in questioning the information the Bush Administration has relied on to justify its war against medical marijuana. And with Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich having already stated that, if elected, he’d legalize compassionate use by executive order, medical marijuana promises to become an increasingly potent political issue.
For ASA interviews or comment, contact William Dolphin at (510) 919-1498.
Americans for Safe Access is a national grassroots organization of patients, doctors and advocates working to secure safe access to medical marijuana. Headquartered in California, ASA's 5500 members nationwide constitute the lead organization devoted to medical marijuana rights in the U.S.