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Rockin' the Boat: Supreme Court Rules Against Medical Pot

This piece examines the June 6 Supreme Court decision allowing gov't raids to continue against people who grow and use medical marijuana with a dotor's recommendation. We hear from Santa Cruz WAMM activists, Suzanne Pfiel, and Valerie Corral, as well as Hillary McQuay from Americans for Safe Access. Self-contained. 16:53
rtb_0610_medi-pot.mp3 (8192 k)
Rockin' the Boat airs Fridays from 3-5 PM on Free Radio Santa Cruz, 101.1 FM, or

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Re: Rockin' the Boat: Supreme Court Rules Against Medical Pot

JUNE 15, 2005
3:03 PM

CONTACT: Marijuana Policy Project
Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications, 202-543-7972
or 415-668-6403

Record House Vote for Medical Marijuana
161-264 Vote to Stop Raids; Patients, Allies Vow to Fight On

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. House of Representatives today voted down an amendment that would have placed a one-year moratorium on federal raids against medical marijuana patients, but patients and their supporters were cheered by an all-time record vote in support of the proposal. The amendment, supported by a broad array of organizations, including the American Nurses Association and the United Methodist Church, was defeated 161-264, receiving 13 more votes than an identical proposal received last year.

The bipartisan amendment, introduced by U.S. Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), sought to prohibit the U.S. Justice Department -- which includes the Drug Enforcement Administration -- from spending taxpayer money to arrest or prosecute medical marijuana patients in the 10 states where medical marijuana is legal: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

"While we're disappointed that the amendment did not pass, a record 161 House members voted today to stop arresting medical marijuana patients," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "There have been only four House floor votes on medical marijuana in the history of the country, and this one was our best ever.

"With over four-to-one public support for ending medical marijuana arrests, it's astounding that 264 House members would vote to spend taxpayer money to arrest medical marijuana patients in violation of states' rights," said Kampia, referring to a new Mason-Dixon poll showing that 68% of voters think "the federal government should not prosecute medical marijuana patients," while only 16% said it should. (Full results from the poll, released yesterday, are available at

The first House vote on the issue was on a non-binding resolution opposing medical marijuana that passed by a 311-94 margin in 1998. The second and third votes were on the same amendment that the House voted on today, which failed by margins of 273-152 and 268-148 in 2003 and 2004, respectively.

The medical marijuana issue reached a head last week when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the federal government has the constitutional authority to arrest medical marijuana patients, even in states which permit medical use. The ruling on Gonzales v. Raich did not affect the 10 state medical marijuana laws.

In response to the ruling, White House Drug Czar John Walters said, "Today's decision marks the end of medical marijuana as a political issue." But the next day, the Rhode Island Senate voted 34-2 in favor of MPP's medical marijuana bill, sending it to the Rhode Island House.

"The next step is to pass the medical marijuana bills pending in New York and Rhode Island, enact medical marijuana laws in several other states early next year, and then win on Capitol Hill next summer when the House votes on medical marijuana again," said Kampia. "The momentum is clearly on our side, and we'll keep fighting until Congress listens to the American people and ends this cruel and needless war on the sick."

With more than 17,000 members and 120,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP works to minimize the harm associated with marijuana-both the consumption of marijuana and the laws that are intended to prohibit such use. MPP believes that the greatest harm associated with marijuana is imprisonment. For more information, please visit


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