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Take action -- New bill in Congress would increase penalties

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Can you imagine a bill that intentionally forces marijuana users to inhale
a greater amount of tar and carbon monoxide? What about a bill that
dramatically increases penalties on medical marijuana providers who develop
high-quality strains of marijuana for seriously ill patients?

The Drug Sentencing Reform Act, scheduled to be introduced by U.S. Rep.
Mark Souder (R-IN) within the next few days, would accomplish these
"goals." Please call your U.S. representative today and urge him or her not
to cosponsor this bill. See below for details about how to do this.

While the most prominent objective of this bill is to ensure that
individuals convicted of drug-related offenses in federal court receive the
longest possible prison sentences, the bill would also -- for the first
time in history -- increase penalties for marijuana producers based on THC
levels. For example, under the provisions of this bill, a medical marijuana
provider in California convicted in federal court for possession of just 33
plants with a THC content of between 13 and 25 percent would be sentenced
"to a term of imprisonment which may not be less than 5 years." Previously,
a 5-year mandatory minimum applied to the possession of more than 100 plants.

By dramatically increasing penalties on the distribution of marijuana with
higher THC content, this bill would ensure that lower-quality marijuana is
sold to children (and adults, of course). This will not decrease the number
of Americans smoking marijuana; it will simply increase the amount of tar
and carbon monoxide inhaled by Americans while they are smoking.

Members of Congress must understand that their constituents support harm
reduction policies, not harm exacerbation policies.

Please call your U.S. representative toll-free by using the Capitol
Switchboard at 800-839-5276. This switchboard operates 24 hours a day. So
if you are inspired to call after normal business hours, the operator will
transfer you to your U.S. representative's office and you can leave a voice
mail message. Of course, calling during business hours is preferable.

Here is a sample script for you to use when you call:

"Hello, my name is ______________ and I live in ______________.
I am calling to urge Representative __________________ not to
cosponsor the Drug Sentencing Reform Act being introduced by
Representative Souder [rhymes with powder]. This bill would
dramatically increase penalties on individuals growing medical
marijuana in accordance with state law. It would also ensure that
smoking marijuana is even more harmful to children than it is
under current law. This is not a bill that Representative ________
should support."

If you are not certain who your U.S. representative is, go to
http://www.house.gov/writerep , enter your state and zip code (your
five-digit zip should work), and click the "Contact My Representative"
button. The name of your U.S. representative should appear on the next page.

As noted above, this bill is also designed to limit the ability of federal
judges to reduce prison sentences for defendants convicted of drug-related
offenses. For example, under the provisions of this bill, a judge would be
prohibited from reducing a defendant's sentence based on family or
community ties -- factors that could still be considered in
non-drug-related cases.

The Marijuana Policy Project will be working with many other individuals
and organizations to fight this bill. It will not be passed without a major
fight. Thank you for doing your part to stop it.