Sam Farr Joins the Fight

U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), whose district includes much of Santa Cruz and Monterey counties in northern California, has joined the battle to protect patients from the Drug Enforcement Administration's ongoing war against medical marijuana, signing on this week as a cosponsor of H.R. 2592.

H.R. 2592, the States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act, is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA). It would protect patients by blocking federal interference with medical marijuana programs authorized by state law. It would also move marijuana into Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act, allowing physicians to prescribe it as they can presently prescribe or administer morphine, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

"Clearly there are identifiable benefits to the use of marijuana under medically prescribed conditions," Rep. Farr said. "Plain and simple, it's just not good policy to keep patients from doctor-approved health treatments even if those treatments are not mainstream. In the case of marijuana, the people of the state of California understand and support it for medicinal use. Unfortunately, the federal government is not on the same page. I believe states that approve medical marijuana should be allowed to provide it however they see fit, the federal government notwithstanding. H.R. 2592 will give states this right, and I am proud to support it."

Farr becomes the tenth California representative to cosponsor H.R. 2592 and the third new California cosponsor since the DEA began its latest effort to shut down California medical marijuana providers on October 25, 2001. The most recent raids, conducted in San Francisco on February 12, provoked a firestorm of protest from local elected officials and citizens. "Californians are angry that the federal government keeps trying to trample the decision they made in 1996 when they passed Proposition 215," said MPP director of government relations Steve Fox. "Representatives are hearing from their constituents that they've had enough." Proposition 215 legalized medical use of marijuana by patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, and other diseases. Seven other states now have similar laws.

"During the 2000 presidential campaign, George W. Bush said that he thought the medical marijuana issue was one that states should be able to decide `as they so choose,'" Fox added. "He's gone back on that promise. During a time of tight budgets and daily worries about possible terrorist attacks, why are we wasting law-enforcement resources trying to keep sick people from getting their medicine?"

Fox added that the California raids contradict the President's stated concern that the illegal drug trade helps fund terrorists. "By closing down legitimate providers who work closely with local government and law enforcement, the DEA is forcing patients to get their medicine from street dealers. There is a growing recognition that this policy is pointless, destructive, and wasteful."

The Marijuana Policy Project 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. To this end, MPP focuses on removing criminal penalties for marijuana use, with a particular emphasis on making marijuana medically available to seriously ill people who have the approval of their doctors.

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