Press Release  | 06/01/2004

On June 4th, Medical Marijuana Movement to Publicly Embarrass Almost 150 Members of Congress

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Actions Across the Country, With Special Focus in CA, CT, MD, NM, OR, PA and WA
As States Approve Medical Marijuana, Pressure on Congress Builds With Full Page Ads, Actions and Patients Confronting Politicians

Groups supporting the medical use of marijuana will publicly embarrass almost 150 Members of Congress on Friday, June 4th. The Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, NORML, and other groups are targeting Members of Congress who voted against an amendment last year that would have stopped the federal government from arresting medical marijuana patients in states where marijuana is legal for medical use. 152 Members of Congress voted for the amendment to protect medical marijuana patients - not enough to pass but more than many political pundits expected.

Medical marijuana patients and their supporters will be pressuring many of the "no" voters to change their vote to "yes" this Friday. They will be rallying in front of the local offices of Members of Congress, talking to voters, and distributing flyers, as well as holding press events in key districts. The flyers criticize the Members of Congress for believing "cancer, MS, and AIDS patients should be sent to federal prison."

Since 1996 almost a dozen states have passed laws allowing the medical use of marijuana, but the use of marijuana for any reason remains a federal crime. As more and more states pass medical marijuana legislation, however, pressure is building on Congress to change federal law. Congress could vote on a medical marijuana amendment similar to last year's amendment in July.

"This is only the beginning," said Bill Piper, Director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "If a Member of Congress votes to send cancer and AIDS patients to jail we're going to make sure that voters in his or her district know that by November. This is a life and death issue and voters understand that."

The Drug Policy Alliance is already placing full-page newspaper ads in districts of some Members of Congress who voted against medical marijuana last year. National polls show that over 70% of voters support medical marijuana, including substantial majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents. As many as two-thirds of voters say they prefer candidates that support medical marijuana over those that do not.

Numerous scientific studies have found that marijuana has medical benefits for AIDS, cancer and other patients. A 1999 Institute of Medicine study funded by the federal government found that nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety "all can be mitigated by marijuana." Allowing patients legal access to medical marijuana has been endorsed by numerous national organizations, including the American Bar Association, American Public Health Association, American Nurses Association, National Association of Attorneys General, and the California Medical Association. Many countries around the world are allowing marijuana for medical use, including England and Canada.

In his latest book, talk show host and medical marijuana patient Montel Williams (who suffers from MS) describes what the medical marijuana issue is really about: "We claim to be a compassionate nation and care about those in need. We have bills written to protect patients from being ripped off, overcharged, and improperly diagnosed...;but here is something that can, without question, help patients who are in pain or depressed, that can prevent us from sitting at home all night suffering silently by ourselves, and all we are asking is to be allowed to use it."

June 4th Actions Around the Country:

1) Medical marijuana supporters protesting and distributing flyers outside the offices of over almost 150 Members of Congress (actionfeedback [at] drugpolicy [dot] org (Contact) the Drug Policy Alliance to find out if this is happening in your area).

2) Drug Policy Alliance running newspaper ads in Baltimore and Philadelphia through out the week of June 1st to embarrass Members of Congress that represent those cities.

3) Local press events in the following seven cities:

Stockton, California:

Medical marijuana patients and caregivers will gather outside U.S. Rep. Dennis Cardoza's (D-CA) district office in Stockton to protest his vote to allow the U.S. Justice Department to continue spending tax dollars to raid and arrest his constituents. Rep. Cardoza will face Republican challenger Charles Pringle in the November election.

When: Friday, June 4, 2004, at 11:15 a.m.

Where: U.S. Rep. Dennis Cardoza's district office, 445 West Weber Ave., Stockton

Norwich, Connecticut:

Protesters will gather outside U.S. Rep. Robert Simmons' (R-CT) district office to highlight Simmons' vote to continue spending money to raid and arrest medical marijuana patients in the medical marijuana states. Observers expect that Rep. Simmons may have a tough November re-election campaign. The Democratic challenger will be determined by the result of an August 10 primary.

When: Friday, June 4, 2004, at 11:15 a.m.

Where: U.S. Rep. Robert Simmons' district office, 2 Courthouse Square, Norwich

Baltimore, Maryland:

Protesters will gather outside U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings' (D-MD) district office to highlight Cummings' vote to send Maryland patients to federal prison just a couple of months after the Maryland legislature enacted a law keeping medical marijuana patients out of state prison. Rep. Cummings is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and ranking member on the House Government Reform Committee. Rep. Cummings will face Republican challenger Tony Salazar in the November election.

When: Friday, June 4, 2004, at 11:15am

Where: U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings' district office, 1010 Park Avenue, Baltimore

**In addition, an ad critical of Rep. Cummings' vote against medical marijuana will appear in the Tuesday, June 1st edition of the Baltimore City Paper.The ad can be viewed at http://www.drugpolicy.org/docUploads/BaltCityPaper.pdf.

Albuquerque, New Mexico:

Medical marijuana patients and activists will gather outside U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson's (R-NM) district office in downtown Albuquerque to protest her vote to continue raiding and arresting seriously ill medical marijuana patients and their caregivers. Rep. Wilson is likely to face Democratic challenger, former state Sen. Richard Romero, in what observers say will be a close November election.

When: Friday, June 4, 2004, at 11:15 a.m.

Where: U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson's district office, 20 First Plaza NW, Albuquerque

Portland, Oregon:

Medical marijuana patients and activists from around the Portland area will gather outside U.S. Rep. David Wu's (D-OR) district office in Portland to emphasize his vote to allow the U.S. Justice Department to continue spending tax dollars to raid and arrest his constituents. Rep. Wu will face Republican challenger Goli Ameri in what observers expect will be a hotly contested November election.

When: Friday, June 4, 2004, at 11:15 a.m.

Where: U.S. Rep. David Wu's district office, 620 SW Main St., Portland

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

Protesters will gather outside U.S. Rep. Joe Hoeffel's (D-PA) Senate campaign headquarters in downtown Philadelphia to highlight Hoeffel's vote to continue spending money to raid and arrest medical marijuana patients in the medical marijuana states. Rep. Hoeffel will face U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) in the November general election.

When: Friday, June 4, 2004, at 11:15 a.m.

Where: U.S. Rep. Joe Hoeffel's Senate campaign headquarters, 1528 Walnut St., Philadelphia

** In addition, an ad critical of Rep. Hoeffel's vote against medical marijuana will appear in the Thursday editions of the Philadelphia City Paper and Philadelphia Public Record, and the Friday edition of the Philadelphia Gay News. A pdf version of the ad is available to reporters now, and will be available online at www.drugpolicy.org on Thursday.

Bellevue, Washington:
Medical marijuana patients and activists will gather outside U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt's (R-WA) Senate campaign office in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue to protest Nethercutt's opposition to medical marijuana. Rep. Nethercutt will face U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) in the November general election.

When: Friday, June 4, 2004, at 11:15 a.m.

Where: U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt's Senate campaign headquarters, 330 112th Ave. NE, Bellevue


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Tony Newman at 646-335-5384 or Bill Piper at 202-669-6430

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