FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 26, 2007
CONTACT: Bill Piper at (202) 669-6430 or Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384
On Day That Feds Raid and Shut down Ten Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in California, Congress Rejects Proposal to Protect Seriously Ill Patients and Their Caregivers from Federal Arrest
House Rejects Amendment to Cut Off Funding to the Raids, 262 to 165
Majority of Democrats Vote for States’ Rights and Compassion, While Republicans Betray Both Their Principles and Their Grassroots Base
As the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration raided and shut down ten medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives considered and rejected an amendment that would have prohibited federal law enforcement agencies from arresting and prosecuting terminally ill patients and their caregivers in states that have legalized marijuana for medical use. The amendment was voted down, 262-165. Offered by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), the amendment received 150 votes from Democrats and 15 votes from Republicans.
“It is outrageous that members of Congress rejected a sensible amendment to protect sick people and their families ," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "We will make sure that voters in their districts know that they voted to send cancer and AIDS patients to federal prison for following their doctor’s recommendation."
"With soldiers dying in Iraq, new terrorism threats emerging, and the federal defecit so large, both Congress and the Bush Administration need to get their priorities straight," Piper continued. "America can not afford these raids on medical marijuana patients and their caregivers, not on fiscal terms, not on law enforcement and national security terms, and not on human terms. This ongoing assault on the will of California voters is an utter waste of federal resources, and it's causing great suffering to sick people and their families. If we don't stop this federal interference now, the feds could start interfering with the laws of Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island and other medical marijuana states."
Background and Key Facts:
Twelve states passed laws allowing terminally ill patients to use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation (Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington).
More than 70 percent of voters support the right of patients to use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation – including substantial majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents (Gallup, Time/CNN, Pew Research Center, other polls).
In 1997, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) commissioned the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to assess marijuana’s medical value. After two years of reviewing the scientific data available “the study team found substantial consensus among experts in the relevant disciplines on the scientific evidence about potential medical uses of marijuana.” The study team concluded, “nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety…all can be mitigated by marijuana.” The esteemed medical journal, The Lancet Neurology, reported that marijuana’s active components “inhibit pain in virtually every experimental pain paradigm.”
Health organizations supporting legal access to medical marijuana include: American Academy of HIV Medicine, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Nurses Association, American Preventive Medical Association, American Public Health Association, California Academy of Family Physicians, California Medical Association, Florida Medical Association, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Lymphoma Foundation of America, New England Journal of Medicine, New York State Association of County Health Officials, New York State Hospice and Palliative Care Association, New York State Medical Society, and the Whitman-Walker Clinic.
Faith-based organizations supporting legal access to medical marijuana or state discretion on the issue include: Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church, National Council of Churches, Progressive National Baptist Convention, Presbyterian Church (USA), Religious Society of Friends (Philadelphia Yearly Meeting), Union for Reform Judaism, United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalist Association, and the United Methodist Church. No religious denomination opposes medical marijuana.