WASHINGTON - July 7 - The U.S. House of Representatives voted tonight to allow the Bush administration's Justice Department to continue its attacks on medical marijuana patients and caregivers in states whose laws allow medical use of marijuana.

The bipartisan proposal, offered as an amendment to the Commerce- Justice-State appropriations bill, would have barred the Justice Department from using any of its funds to block medical marijuana states "from implementing State laws authorizing the use of medical marijuana in those States." It was introduced by Reps. Sam Farr (D-CA), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), who had planned to be the lead sponsor, had to miss this week's sessions due to an injury suffered at home last weekend.

"It is shocking how out of touch with voters Congress remains on this issue," said Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "State and national polling consistently shows overwhelming public support for protecting medical marijuana patients from arrest -- 80 percent support in a CNN/Time magazine poll in 2002 and 75 percent in a statewide Alabama poll published by the Mobile Register this July 4. Members who mistakenly believe that they cast the politically safe vote by allowing the continuing persecution of cancer and AIDS patients may be in for a surprise."

Last week, television talk show host Montel Williams, who uses medical marijuana to treat the pain caused by multiple sclerosis, lobbied in support of the amendment. The July 7 issue of Roll Call quoted Williams as telling congressional staffers that he would be "your boss' biggest nightmare" if the amendment did not pass.

"We look forward to continuing to work with Montel Williams and other medical marijuana patients to educate Congress and the public about medical marijuana, and to make sure that voters know if their representative voted to continue arresting and jailing seriously ill patients," Fox said. "MPP's 527 organization is ranked in the top 50 by OpenSecrets.org, and we intend to be active in the fall campaign."

Progressive Newswire
Bruce Mirken
JULY 7, 2004
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