LB Advocate Urges Congressional Action After Supreme Court Lets Feds Trump State Laws Allowing Medical Marijuana
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(June 6, 2005) -- Following today's (June 6) U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the federal government's power to override state laws (including a voter-enacted CA measure) that allow the use of medical marijuana, (Reuters coverage, click here), the LB woman who spearheaded the drive for a compassionate LBPD policy toward the use of medical marijuana expressed hope for changes in federal law if the public is heard.
Diana Lejins, CEO of Advocates for Disability Rights, an L.A. County based group that has supported the CA's medical marijuana law, told LBReport.com that after reading the statement issued by CA Attorney General Bill Lockyer (text below), she is confident "this latest hurdle will be surmounted."
Ms. Lejins said she was initially dismayed by the high court's ruling but on reflection believes the issue can be won because it is now "one for the people." She urged the public to tell members of Congress "that changes in federal law regarding medical marijuana must be enacted." She said she considers it absurd and unjust that "tax dollars are being spent to threaten sick people with prison for using medically supervised substances to ease their suffering and aid their survival."
Following the Supreme Court ruling, CA Attorney General Bill Lockyer issued the statement below:
Today's ruling does not overturn California law permitting the use of medical marijuana, but it does uphold a federal regulatory scheme that contradicts the will of California voters and limits the right of states to provide appropriate medical care for its citizens. Although I am disappointed in the outcome of today's decision, legitimate medical marijuana patients in California must know that state and federal laws are no different today than they were yesterday.
Californians spoke overwhelmingly in favor of medical marijuana by passing Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Initiative, and that law still stands in our state. Unfortunately, federal law continues to criminalize the use of physician-recommended marijuana medicine. This conflict between state and federal law means that seriously ill Californians will continue to run the risk of arrest and prosecution under federal law when grow and or they use marijuana as medicine.
Today's ruling shows the vast philosophical difference between the federal government and Californians on the rights of patients to have access to the medicine they need to survive and lead healthier lives. Taking medicine on the recommendation of a doctor for a legitimate illness should not be a crime.
There is something very wrong with a federal law that treats medical marijuana the same as heroin. The United States Congress and the President have the power to reform and modernize federal law in order to bring relief to medical patients and still punish those who illegally traffic in substances. Patients, physicians and the public that support medicinal marijuana should tell their Congressional Representatives and Senators to take a fresh look at the federal laws that ban its use.
Meanwhile, the White House Director of National Drug Control Policy issued a statement calling the Supreme Court decision "the end of medical marijuana as a political issue." We post below the statement of John Walters, President Bush's "Drug Czar":
Today’s decision marks the end of medical marijuana as a political issue. Our Nation has the highest standards and most sophisticated institutions in the world for determining the safety and effectiveness of medication. Our national medical system relies on proven scientific research, not popular opinion. To date, science and research have not determined that smoking a crude plant is safe or effective. We have a responsibility as a civilized society to ensure that the medicine Americans receive from their doctors is effective, safe, and free from the pro-drug politics that are being promoted in America under the guise of medicine.
Too many of our citizens suffer from pain and chronic illnesses. Smoking illegal drugs may make some people "feel better." However, civilized societies and modern day medical practices differentiate between inebriation and the safe, supervised delivery of proven medicine by legitimate doctors. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a review of the available scientific evidence in an effort to assess the potential health benefits of marijuana and its constituent cannabinoids. The review concluded that smoking marijuana is not recommended for any long-term medical use, and a subsequent IOM report declared, "marijuana is not a modern medicine."
For years, pro-drug groups seeking the legalization of marijuana and other drugs have preyed on the compassion of Americans to promote their political agenda and bypass F.D.A.’s rigorous standards which have safeguarded our medical supply for over 100 years. Marinol -- the synthetic form of THC and the psychoactive ingredient contained in marijuana -- is already legally available for prescription by physicians whose patients suffer from pain and chronic illness.
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