Responding to the growing conflict between the states and the federal government over the issue of medical marijuana, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) will offer an amendment to the Science-State-Justice-Commerce Appropriations bill that would prohibit the U.S. Justice Department from undermining state efforts to provide terminally ill and chronic pain patients access to doctor-recommended medical marijuana. The amendment would prohibit the Justice Department from spending any money on arresting or prosecuting medical marijuana patients in states where medical marijuana is legal. 161 members of Congress voted for a similar amendment last year.
Eleven states have enacted effective medical marijuana laws: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Nevertheless, the U.S. Justice Department continues to spend millions of dollars arresting medical marijuana patients and their caregivers -- even in states where medical marijuana is legal. At a time when violent drug cartels remain at large and threats of terrorism continue to emerge, it is irresponsible for the Justice Department to jeopardize public safety by wasting scarce law enforcement resources conducting raids on hospice centers and medical marijuana patients.
The Hinchey-Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment would not prevent the Justice Department from arresting people using, growing, or selling marijuana for recreational use. Nor would it prevent the Justice Department from arresting medical marijuana patients in the states that have not approved the drug for this use. It simply prevents the federal government from arresting cancer, AIDS and MS patients that use marijuana for medical reasons in states that have adopted medical marijuana laws.
A 2001 Pew Research Center poll found that 73% of Americans support medical marijuana. A 2002 Time/CNN poll found that 80% of Americans support it. The Institute of Medicine has determined that nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety "all can be mitigated by marijuana." Allowing cancer, AIDS, and MS patients legal access to medical marijuana is supported by the American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, American Bar Association, the Whitman-Walker Clinic, and Kaiser Permanente, among other groups.
What to Do Now: Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Ask to speak to your Representative. If you're not sure who represents you, the operator can tell you. You can also look up your Representative here by entering your zip code at the top of the page.
What to Say When You Call: Once the operator transfers you to your Representative's office, give the person that answers the phone the following message:
"Hi, I'm a constituent. I'm calling to urge my Representative to vote for the Hinchey-Rohrabacher [pronounced: Hinchee - Roy Bocker.] medical marijuana amendment to the Science-State-Justice-Commerce spending bill, which will be voted on this week. This issue is very important to me."
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