A number of major religious denominations support legalizing medical marijuana as an ethical responsibility to help ease the suffering of patients with cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and other debilitating diseases, the Washington Post reported June 26.

Among the religious groups that support medical marijuana are the United Methodist Church, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, the Episcopal Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the United Church of Christ.

"According to our tradition, a physician is obligated to heal the sick," said a resolution adopted by the Union for Reform Judaism this past November.

The religious groups are also calling on the federal government to reassess the penalties for people who use marijuana for medical purposes. "We believe that seriously ill people should not be subject to arrest and imprisonment for using medical marijuana with their doctors' approval," said a Coalition for Compassionate Access statement, endorsed in 2002 by the United Church of Christ.

Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative Executive Director Charles Thomas said the goal of the group is to advocate for "more just and compassionate drug policies."

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