- Troy Dayton for DRCNet
Washington, DC: On Monday, March 30, Cheryl Miller, a Multiple Sclerosis patient who uses marijuana for medicinal reasons, consumed marijuana -- with the help of her husband Jim -- in the office of Congressman Jim Rogan (R-CA), protesting House Resolution 372. Both were arrested for their acts of civil disobedience.
House Resolution 372 is a non-binding resolution that is "unequivocally opposed to legalizing marijuana for medicinal use" and "urges the defeat of State initiatives which would seek to legalize marijuana for medicinal use." Congressman Rogan was targeted because he has supported favorable medical marijuana legislation in the California State Legislature and also had a cousin who used marijuana successfully to alleviate the nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy, yet he voted for H. Res. 372 in committee. "Patients nationwide are angry and are beginning to target hypocritical members of Congress with direct action. Patients are ready for civil disobedience. We've only begun to turn up the heat," said Chuck Thomas, Director of Communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the organizers of the event. "We can't let this awful resolution pass. I was arrested today so that some day, other patients will not have to be," said Cheryl Miller. Cheryl, age 51, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1971. She and her husband Jim live in Silverton, New Jersey. She has tried all the standard drugs to treat MS, most of which had horrific side-effects. She has even been prescribed Marinol (synthetic THC), but finds marijuana in its natural form to be the most helpful for her muscle spasticity.
Also on hand were about a dozen protesters including another patient and a doctor. Michael Krawitz is a 35-year-old father and disabled veteran living in Elliston, Virginia. Fifteen years ago, he fell victim to a poorly constructed roadway and crashed his motorcycle. "I've had ten surgeries and two total artificial hips," Mike explained "I use cannabis as an adjunct to my narcotic pain medicine in treating my sometimes extreme pain. Cannabis also treats the nausea caused by my internal injuries." Dr. Dennis Petro is a neurologist who has been studying marijuana's therapeutic effects since the late 70's. Dr. Petro has published many studies showing marijuana's medical efficacy in peer-reviewed medical journals. This is the first act of civil disobedience on this issue in Congress and it garnered national media attention. Dozens of journalists were on hand to report on the event, including reporters from all three networks, CNN, Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times and more. The Week Online asked Rob Kampia, Director of Government Relations for MPP, why he felt this act of civil disobedience was so successful. "We've tried reason, we've tried lawsuits, we've tried the FDA, we've tried to get co-sponsors for Barney Frank's medical marijuana bill, and we've got public opinion on our side, but Congress is just not responding. In fact, they are doing the opposite." He pointed out that civil disobedience is only helpful for causes that garner wide public support. "I strongly urge against using civil disobedience for recreational use because the public and the media aren't with us." You can find the Marijuana Policy Project on the web at http://www.mpp.org/.
(The vote on H.R. 372 has been postponed until after the current Congressional recess. Please contact your Representative in opposition to this bill -- info at http://www.drcnet.org/rapid/1998/3-18-1.html. And try and make an appointment with your Reps while they are in their home districts this month.)