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Washington, D.C. – After a dramatic hour of debate that saw amendment co-sponsor Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) in tears, more than one-third of the U.S. House of Representatives voted today in favor of stopping the federal prosecution of medical marijuana patients and providers.
After appealing to the principles of “compassion and freedom,” Representative Rohrabacher broke down when talking about his mother’s struggle with cancer. He said the federal law that would send her to prison if she used marijuana to relieve her pain was “immoral.”
Passage of the bi-partisan Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment to the Commerce-Justice-State Departments Appropriations bill (HR 2799) would have eliminated 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 marijuana legally.
But the 152 “yes” votes were nonetheless a victory for patients, according to Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, because the issue is gaining momentum. The same amendment failed to make it to the floor for a vote in the last session.
“What we can’t understand,” said Sherer, “is how 273 representatives of the people could vote to continue harassing and imprisoning sick people for using a safe, medicinal herb.”
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.
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.
For ASA interviews or additional comment, contact William Dolphin at (510) 919-1498.
Americans for Safe Access is a national coalition of patients, doctors and advocates. With 5,500 members nationwide, ASA is the leading organization devoted to medical marijuana.