Cardoza targeted for medical pot vote
Thursday, June 03, 2004
The Tri-Valley Herald
A Northern California congressman is among 150 lawmakers nationwide who will be pressured by protesters Friday to change their votes on an amendment which would halt federal raids on medical marijuana patients, caregivers and cooperatives.
Patients and caregivers plan to gather at 11:15 a.m. Friday outside Rep. Dennis Cardoza's district office at 445 W. Weber Ave., Stockton. A spokesman for Cardoza, D-Atwater, didn't return an e-mail Wednesday.
Charles Pringle, Cardoza's Republican challenger in November's election, said Wednesday he supports the amendment, and called Cardoza's vote against it "an assault on the doctor-patient privilege."
Voters in California and other states have decided doctors and patients should be able to consider marijuana as an option for treating debilitating illnesses, Pringle said, and "it is an abomination for the federal government to spend millions of tax dollars raiding the homes of terminally ill patients.
"While I support the greater war on drugs, the doctors of patients suffering from AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and chronic pain -- among other maladies -- must be given the legal autonomy to consider every possible treatment option," he said, adding he'll attend Friday's protest.
This and scores of other, similar protests from coast to coast Friday -- a date chosen because it's the first anniversary of the sentencing of self-proclaimed "Guru of Ganja" Ed Rosenthal of Oakland -- are being mounted by the Drug Policy Alliance, the Marijuana Policy Project, NORML and other groups.
The targets are those who voted against an appropriations amendment last July which would have forbidden the Justice Department from spending any money on medical marijuana raids in states with laws allowing the drug's medical use.
The amendment was defeated on a 273-152 vote, although California's delegation voted 33-19 in its favor and most of the Bay Area's delegation supported it. Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, opposed it, and Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, was among nine who didn't vote.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, and Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., intend to reintroduce their amendment this summer, and activists hope to get more votes this time by pressuring lawmakers in advance.
"This is only the beginning," said Bill Piper, the Drug Policy Alliance's national affairs director. "If a member of Congress votes to send cancer and AIDS patients to jail we're going to make sure that voters in his or her district know that by November. This is a life and death issue and voters understand that."
Rosenthal, already an internationally renowned marijuana cultivation
expert, became a hero of the medical marijuana movement when he was sentenced
one year ago Friday to one day in prison, time already served. He had been
convicted of federal marijuana cultivation charges by a jury which wasn't
allowed to hear any testimony or evidence about Rosenthal's medical motives
and local authorization.
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