For Immediate Release: May 12, 2008
Religious Leaders Urge Minnesota House, Governor to Pass Medical Marijuana BillFifty Clergypersons from Nine Denominations Take Action for Compassion
Contact: Charles Thomas, IDPI executive director, 301-938-1577
Fifty religious leaders throughout the state are urging the Minnesota House to pass a bill to allow seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.
Denominations with official positions supporting medical marijuana include the United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), Union for Reform Judaism, Episcopal Church, and United Church of Christ. In addition to clergy from these denominations, medical marijuana supporters in Minnesota include clergy from Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran, and Baptist congregations.
Clergy from these nine denominations endorsed the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative’s statement of principle reading, “Licensed medical doctors should not be punished for recommending the medical use of marijuana to seriously ill patients, and seriously ill patients should not be subject to criminal sanctions for using marijuana if the patient’s physician has told the patient that such use is likely to be beneficial.”
This is precisely what S.F. 345, Minnesota’s medical marijuana bill, would accomplish. Similar laws have been enacted in 12 other states. Patients in Minnesota suffering from cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other serious illnesses who find marijuana to be helpful currently face a terrible choice: Either continue to suffer needlessly or risk arrest and jail. Although the Senate has already passed the bill, and polls show an overwhelming majority of Minnesotans in favor of it, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has threatened to veto is as long as members of the law enforcement community oppose it.
“Medical marijuana is an issue of mercy and compassion,” said the Rev. Mark Stenberg from Mercy Seat Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. “It's immoral to punish people for making an earnest attempt at healing. As people of faith, we are called to stand up for humans who are suffering needlessly.”
A letter featuring the statement signed by fifty Minnesota religious leaders was sent to all members of the state House. Many of the clergypersons followed up by making phone calls to their representatives.
“The moral choice on this issue is clear,” said Charles Thomas, executive director of IDPI, which is coordinating the religious lobbying efforts in Minnesota. “We pray that the House, the law enforcement community, and Governor Pawlenty will heed this call for compassion.”