Tony Newman at (212) 613-8026 or Elizabeth M
Following this week’s Supreme Court ruling on medical marijuana, dozens of newspapers around the country are calling on legislators to vote in favor of federal legislation that would protect medical marijuana patients from federal prosecution in states that have passed medical marijuana laws (see excerpts below).
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the federal government has the authority to prosecute cancer and AIDS patients who use marijuana for medical reasons, even in states that have passed laws making it legal. The Majority, which expressed sympathy for medical marijuana patients, declared that it was up to Congress to change federal law to protect sick and dying patients. Next week, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider an amendment that would do just that. Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-22nd/NY) and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-46th/CA) will offer a bi-partisan amendment prohibiting the Justice Department and DEA from spending any money on undermining state medical marijuana laws.
“Congress has the opportunity to send a clear message to federal bureaucrats that our nation has higher priorities than busting sick people,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “This amendment is a win-win for elected officials. It gives them the opportunity to do something that’s not just popular, it’s the right thing to do.” Over 70% of Americans support sick patients’ right to medical marijuana.
Excerpts From Newspaper Editorials From Around the Country
“In fact, Congress is considering two bills, backed mostly by Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republicans, that could legalize the medicinal use of marijuana at the federal level. […;] Congress usually kicks such hot-burning issues as marijuana reform over to the courts. This time, the courts have kicked it right back. Congress, as W.C. Fields once said, needs to take the bull by the tail and face the situation. And the public needs to make itself heard.”
— Clarence Page, “Will Congress have the guts to tackle medical marijuana?,” Chicago Tribune, June 8, 2005
“Congress should immediately approve a pending bill that would bar the Justice Department from prosecuting patients who use medical marijuana. The House is scheduled to vote on the bill next week. This simple step would reassure patients that federal agents will not raid their homes to confiscate the drug or arrest them.”
— “A Medical Setback,” Hartford Courant, June 8, 2005
“Congress next week is likely to take up the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which would deny the Department of Justice funds to surveil, arrest or prosecute medical marijuana patients in states that have passed medical marijuana laws. That might not be precisely the congressional remedy Justice Stevens had in mind, but it would be a good start.”
— “Marijuana ruling: status quo Federal drug law is upheld but state law allowing medical use is not invalidated. Go figure,” Orange County Register, Tuesday, June 7, 2005
“The public increasingly supports letting doctors prescribe the drug to terribly ill patient. The House should show compassion for those patients next week and approve the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment with strong support from Wisconsin’s eight members.”
— “Let States, Doctors OK Marijuana Use,” Wisconsin State Journal, June 9, 2005
“I got no answer from the staff of Pombo or Cardoza as to how either of them plan to vote on this year’s Hinchey-Rohrabacher bill. Which means, perhaps, they could be swayed by input from constituents.”
— Debra Saunders, “Hard on drugs, Soft on Suffering,” SF Chronicle, June 9, 2005
“And Congress must step in and legalize medical marijuana, allowing thousands of patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis and other debilitating diseases a way to ease their pain without fear of being jailed.
“In its decision, the Supreme Court made it clear that the ball is now in Congress’ court,” said Angel Raich. “I hope for myself, my children and for other patients out there that our congressional leaders put compassion first.
“Until that law is passed, let’s start by urging California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein to support the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment.You can get e-mail links to Boxer and Feinstein by going to the Web site www.senate.gov.”
— “Medical pot, after the Ruling,” The San Francisco Chronicle, June 7, 2005
“California’s congressional delegation should support the Hinchey-Rohrbacher amendment and head efforts to legalize medical marijuana nationally. Until Congress approves such a law, people suffering from cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, pain, nausea, AIDS and other diseases that might be helped by controlled use of medical marijuana will continue to be at risk for arrest. That is indeed cruel and unusual treatment.”
— “State Should Push Federal Medical Marijuana Law,” The Oakland Tribune, June 8, 2005