Press Release  | 06/15/2005

Congress Votes on Medical Marijuana: Rejects Bi-Partisan Amendment Prohibiting Federal Government from Undermining State Medical Marijuana Laws

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Momentum Grows for Medical Marijuana as Amendment picks up 13 New Votes
New Support Sends Message to Federal Government and DEA: Arresting Patients Increasingly Unpopular, Will Have Political Consequences

In the wake of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Congress rejected an amendment today that would have prohibited the U.S. Justice Department from undermining state medical marijuana laws.

"We picked up 13 more votes this year than last. It's only a matter of time before Congress gives medical marijuana patients the protection they need," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "This vote sends a clear message to the DEA: further attempts to undermine state medical marijuana laws will bring further political consequences."

The amendment received 161 votes, 13 more votes than a similar amendment received last year. 145 Democrats, 1 Independent and 15 Republicans voted for the amendment, which was offered by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-22nd/NY), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-46th/CA), Rep. Sam Farr (D-17th/CA), and Rep. Ron Paul (R-14th/TX).

The medical benefits of marijuana for AIDS, cancer and other patients are well established. The Institute of Medicine has determined that nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety "all can be mitigated by marijuana." The esteemed medical journal, The Lancet Neurology, reports that marijuana's active components "inhibit pain in virtually every experimental pain paradigm." The federal government, however, is behind the times. It still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, defined as a having no medical value and a high potential for abuse. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD and peyote. In contrast, cocaine, methamphetamine, morphine, opium and PCP are in Schedule II and available for medical use.

Over 70% of Americans support sick patients' right to use medical marijuana and ten states have legalized marijuana for medical use. Ten states have legalized marijuana for medical use.

"It is outrageous that so many members of Congress would vote to undermine the will of voters and put medical marijuana patients and their loved ones in federal prison," said Bill Piper. "We will make sure their constituents know they lack compassion for cancer, AIDS and other terminally ill patients."


Tony Newman at (212) 613-8026 or Elizabeth M

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