July 6, 2004
With the issue of medical marijuana again headed to the U.S. Supreme Court (Ashcroft v. Raich, granted cert on June 28), Congress will have an opportunity this week to end the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's raids on seriously ill medical marijuana patients in states that allow medical use of marijuana.
U.S. Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) are expected to offer an amendment to the Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill during consideration of the bill on the House floor, possibly as early as Wednesday, July 7. The amendment's wording is expected to be similar to a version proposed last year, which listed the states with medical marijuana laws and specified that no funds made available to the U.S. Department of Justice may be used to prevent these states "from implementing State laws authorizing the use of medical marijuana in those States." Last week, television talk show host Montel Williams-who uses medical marijuana to treat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis-addressed approximately 175 congressional staffers at a luncheon held to raise awareness of the proposal.
Vermont recently became the ninth state to allow medical use of marijuana, joining Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.
"Last year, the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment got 152 votes on the House floor-more than any proposal in support of medical marijuana has ever received, but still shockingly low considering the strong public support for medical marijuana," said Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. Fox noted that national and state polls consistently show that 70 to 80 percent of voters support laws protecting medical marijuana patients from arrest.
"Even in conservative Alabama, a Mobile Register poll published on July
4 showed 75 percent public support for legal access to medical marijuana
-- virtually identical to poll results from California," Fox said. "The
fact is that support for protecting medical marijuana patients cuts across
every region, party affiliation and political ideology. There is no constituency
in this country for arresting and jailing cancer, MS or AIDS patients who
are simply trying to relieve some of their suffering."
Copyright © 2004, Common Dreams