WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With the U.S. House of Representatives poised to vote on a measure to stop the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from arresting medical marijuana patients in states which permit medical use of marijuana, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has become the latest religious body to endorse legal access to medical marijuana for seriously ill patients.
The resolution, passed by consensus on June 21, affirms "the use of Cannabis sativa or marijuana for legitimate medical purposes as recommended by a physician" and urges "federal legislation that allows for its use and that provides for the production and distribution of the plant for those purposes." The full text of the resolution is available at http://18.104.22.168/Business/Business.aspx?iid=134 . The Presbyterian Church (USA) now joins the United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, Union for Reform Judaism, Progressive National Baptist Convention, and the Unitarian Universalist Association in support of medical marijuana.
Next week, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which would bar the U.S. Department of Justice - including the DEA - from using its funds to interfere with the implementation of medical marijuana laws in the 11 states that have them: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
"Being seriously ill is stressful enough already without living in fear of arrest for taking doctor-recommended medicine," said Rev. Jim McNeil, a representative of the Homestead Presbytery in Nebraska, the regional body that brought the resolution to the General Assembly. "It is the job of religious denominations to give voice to those who cannot speak up for themselves. We pray that Congress will have the compassion to stop this war on patients."
"This action by the Presbyterian Church is further proof that protecting medical marijuana patients is simply not controversial," said Aaron Houston, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "A lot of people mistakenly believe that the issue of medical marijuana is 'incendiary,' but that's simply not true. An overwhelming majority of Americans want cancer and AIDS patients to be able to use medical marijuana under their doctors' care, and it's time for Congress to listen to the voters."
A November 2005 Gallup poll showed 78 percent support for allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana. [see also: http://www.mpp.org/releases/nr20060622.html]
With more than 20,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit MarijuanaPolicy.org.