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Local Medical Marijuana Campaign Targets Congress

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Medical marijuana activists are trying to hit four Congressmen where they
live, contacting their constituents to blast their voting record with
phone messages recorded by two Bay Area women.

Registered voters in the districts of Wally Herger, R-Marysville; Elton
Gallegly, R-Simi Valley; Joe Baca, D-Rialto; and David Wu, D-Oregon, began
receiving phone calls Thursday morning that told them the lawmakers had
voted against a bipartisan amendment to cut off funding for federal raids
on California's and Oregon's medical marijuana providers and patients.

The amendment was defeated July 23 on a 273-152 vote.

The recorded messages are from Angel McClary Raich -- an Oakland patient
now suing the federal government to halt the raids that she says are
depriving her and others of medicine they need to survive -- and Marney
Craig of Novato -- a juror who says she was "duped" into convicting
Oakland marijuana grower Ed Rosenthal this year by a federal justice
system that didn't let all the facts be heard.

Raich's message in part says, "I'm a medical marijuana patient, and your
Congressman ... is threatening my life. My weight has dropped to 98
pounds, and my doctor says that marijuana is keeping me alive. But even
though it's legal in California, Congressman ... is supporting the federal
government's war on patients like me."

And Craig's message, in part, says, "I was one of the jurors in a medical
marijuana trial and we were hoodwinked by the federal prosecutors ...

Your Congressman ... had a chance to end this federal deception but he
voted to let it continue."

The campaign is being mounted by Berkeley-based Americans for Safe Access;
director Steph Sherer said it will cost under $100,000 raised from among
the group's membership to reach more than 600,000 voters.

"The issue is gaining momentum," she said Thursday. "This is about
compassion for the sick and dying."

California and Oregon are among 10 states with laws permitting medical use
of marijuana, but federal law still bans the drug for all purposes. These
four Congressmen incurred activists' wrath because the federal government
has raided or arrested medical marijuana providers or patients in their
districts, yet they voted against the bipartisan amendment to halt the

Sherer said this is "the beginning of a series of educational campaigns
our coalition will be launching," and her organization is developing
further ads "we hope we won't have to use" against these Congressmen if
they remain unresponsive to the cause.

Gallegly and Herger both said the activists are using the plight of the
sick to advance the cause of marijuana legalization; both also noted that
almost two-thirds of the House voted against this amendment. Gallegly said
he doesn't believe his constituents will disagree.

"So far today we've been 'deluged' with five calls," he said. "Three of
the calls said, 'Congressman, stay your course,' and the other two were
confused as to what the message was."

Cameron Johnson, Wu's press secretary, said Wu "supports providing
Americans with all the medication they need. However, the direct use of
marijuana is medically unnecessary and prone to abuse."

Baca's office didn't return a call seeking comment.

Author: Josh Richman
Source: Oakland Tribune
Contact: eangtrib@newschoice.com
Website: Home - Digital First Media
Pubdate: Friday, November 21, 2003