courtesy NORML Foundation, http://www.norml.org
Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA), Ron Paul (R-TX), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) joined former Ronald Reagan presidential aide Lyn Nofziger and seriously ill patients Wednesday (7/24) in a first-ever Capitol Hill press conference calling on Congress to allow the state-sanctioned use of medicinal marijuana.
"As a physician, I of course support the right of doctors and patients to decide for themselves what treatments are appropriate, without interference from the federal government," said Rep. Paul, cosponsor of H.R. 2592, the "States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act," which seeks to amend federal law so that states wishing to legalize and distribute medicinal marijuana may do so without running afoul of federal law. "The idea that [the federal government] is attacking sick people and the doctor-patient relationship is criminal. It's a criminal act."
Former Reagan aide Lyn Nofziger offered his support for H.R. 2592 after explaining how marijuana helped alleviate the suffering of his daughter while she underwent cancer chemotherapy. "Because of this [experience,] I have become an avid supporter of efforts to legalize marijuana's use for medicinal purposes," he said. "An administration that claims to be compassionate and conservative should enthusiastically support legislation that is truly compassionate and that also would return rights to the states that the 10th Amendment theoretically guarantees them."
The legalization of medical marijuana is "an issue on which people around the country are ahead of the politicians," Rep. Frank said, adding that his proposal is "a common sense idea that will give some people who are suffering a measure of relief." House Bill 2592 currently has 36 cosponsors.
Keith Stroup, Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which organized the press conference, said that Wednesday' event should show elected officials that they must no longer ignore the medical marijuana issue.
"Congress must no longer ignore the will of the American people and the needs of seriously ill patients," he said.
Two such patients, Gary Storck of Wisconsin, who suffers from glaucoma and chronic pain, and Cheryl Miller of New Jersey, who suffers from the advanced stages of multiple sclerosis, explained how marijuana provides symptomatic relief of their conditions. Cheryl's husband Jim demanded Congress act on H.R. 2592, noting that it may be "too late for Cheryl, but there's lots of Cheryl's left" who would benefit from the legal use of medical marijuana.
"The alleviation of human suffering must no longer be held hostage to politics," Stroup concluded. "Congress needs to approve H.R. 2592 and allow states to implement their own medical marijuana policies unimpeded by the federal government."
Visit http://www.norml.org to view photos from the press conferences. Visit http://highwire.stanford.edu/~straffin/dp/ to view Crossfire and Wolf Blitzer debates with NORML director Keith Stroup and CSDP president Kevin Zeese.