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ORLANDO – At noon today medical marijuana protesters are gathering at a local Congressional office demanding an end to the federal government's refusal to respect state laws. Congress will be voting today or tomorrow on a bill to stop the federal arrest of patients in states that allow the medical use of marijuana.Orlando medical marijuana patients and activists will be joined by leaders from Americans for Safe Access, the nation’s largest advocacy group for medical marijuana, at the office of Ric Keller, seeking his help in protecting sick and suffering patients.
At stake is the bi-partisan Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment to the Commerce-Justice-State Departments Appropriations bill, which would eliminate funding for federal investigations or prosecutions of patients and providers in the states that allow the sick and dying to use marijuana medicinally.
Last year the bill received 152 votes in favor, only 66 short of passage. And with more states passing laws legalizing medical use or considering them, pressure on Congress to resolve the conflict between state laws and the federal prohibition is increasing.
Since 1996, 11 states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington) have adopted medical marijuana laws. The U.S. Justice Department, however, continues to spend millions of dollars arresting medical marijuana patients and their caregivers - even in states where medical marijuana is legal.
Substantial majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents support medical marijuana. A 2001 Pew Research Center poll found that 73% of Americans 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, the Whitman-Walker Clinic, and Kaiser Permanente, among other groups.
WHO: Orlando medical marijuana activists and national leaders from Americans for Safe Access
WHAT: Medical Marijuana demonstration asking for action in Congress
WHEN: TODAY, Wednesday, July 7, 2004, Noon-1:00pm
WHERE: Office of U.S. Rep. Ric Keller, 605 East Robinson Street, Orlando, FL
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.