News Release

Medical Marijuana: Key Vote in Congress Looms

STEVE FOX
BRUCE MIRKEN
Fox is director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project which provided funding for Angel Raich’s litigation in the recent Supreme Court decision. Mirken is director of communications for the organization. Fox said today: “The Raich decision does not overturn any state medical marijuana law or take away any protections these laws provide. It merely maintains the status quo, in which patients protected under state law remain vulnerable to federal prosecution. Justice Stevens went out of his way to note in the majority opinion that ‘marijuana does have valid therapeutic purposes,’ and gave a strong suggestion that Congress should act. It will be able to do so next week, when Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Ca.) will propose an amendment to the Justice Department’s appropriations bill that will bar the department from attacking patients in states where medical marijuana is legal. And we’ve already seen the blowback from Raich: On June 7, the Rhode Island Senate voted to pass their medical marijuana bill by 34-2 — by far the biggest state legislative vote ever in favor of a medical marijuana bill.”
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LYNNETTE SHAW
Shaw is founder of the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, a not-for-profit association in California. She said today: “We attend to hundreds of people who depend on legal, organic marijuana to treat medical conditions such as wasting syndrome, acute nausea from chemotherapy, seizures, glaucoma, crippling arthritis, and chronic severe pain. We are licensed by our town, our books are audited regularly and we work with local law enforcement to ensure that we are able to help people as effectively as possible. Because of the federal government’s actions, the patients are frightened. This is a cruel punishment when they are in such a vulnerable state because of their medical conditions.”
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RICHARD COWAN
Former executive director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and editor of the Internet newsletter MarijuanaNews.com, Cowan said today: “One question is whether medical marijuana is good medicine. But a more important question is whether arresting people — using state violence — against someone for using a plant that they say helps them is good medicine.”
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MITCH EARLEYWINE
Author of the book Understanding Marijuana, Earleywine is associate professor of psychology at the University of Southern California. He said today: “If you look at the pattern of marijuana prohibition in the 1930s, it’s clear that once alcohol prohibition was repealed, some people were out of work and simply sought to control another substance. This fueled marijuana prohibition more than any legitimate medical or social needs. It was during this period when cannabis was curiously renamed marijuana — a term hitherto reserved for poor-quality tobacco in Mexico. As Mexican workers came to Texas, anti-marijuana statutes provided a useful pretext for law enforcement officials to put Mexicans in jail.”
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REBECCA SALTZMAN
Field manager with Americans for Safe Access, a national medical marijuana advocacy group, Saltzman said today: “We are working on local ordinances and helping to protect state laws which are not always being implemented.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167