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***Congress To Vote This Week on Protecting Medical Marijuana Patients from Arrest***
***Will Also Vote on Cutting Drug War Aid to Colombia and Spending Money on AIDS Prevention Instead***
IMPORTANT THAT YOU ACT NOW
Congress will be voting on two amendments this week in support of freedom and human rights.
As early as Tuesday, the House of Representatives will vote on an amendment to the 2004 Foreign Aid bill that would cut drug war aid to Colombia and spend the money on global AIDS/HIV prevention programs instead. U.S. anti-drug aid to Colombia is fueling a civil war, pushing thousands of families into poverty, destroying the environment, and submerging America deeper into the military quagmire. The last vote in the House to cut Colombia military aid lost by only seven votes -- we are very close! But we need your help today.
As early as Wednesday, the House will also be voting on an amendment to the Justice-Commerce-State appropriations bill that would prevent the DEA from undermining state medical marijuana laws. If approved, it will put an end to the DEA arresting medical marijuana patients and their care-givers in states that have approved marijuana for medical use. Thousands of AIDS, cancer and other patients are being threatened by the federal government. We need your immediate help to protect them.
** Tell your Representative: --I'm calling to urge my representative to support the Hinchey/Rohrabacher (pronounced HINCH-E/ROY-BOCKER) amendment to the Justice-Commerce-State appropriation bill. This amendment protects states' rights and medical privacy by preventing the federal government from undermining state medical marijuana laws. I'm a federal taxpayer and I'm upset that my money is being used to arrest AIDS and cancer patients.
--I also want my representative to support the McGovern-Skelton amendment to the 2004 foreign aid bill, which would reduce military aid to Colombia and transfer it into programs to combat AIDS. *** If you respond to this message after Tuesday it may be too late - Congress is set to vote on this Amendment on Tuesday. If you're unsure whether you are too late just ask the person you talk to in your representative's office.
2) FORWARD THIS ALERT TO YOUR FRIENDS, URGE THEM TO CALL!
************************************************************************* Background on medical marijuana, DEA raids, and the Hinchey/Rohrabacher amendment:
National polls show that over 70% of voters support allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana, including substantial majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents. As many as two-thirds of voters say they prefer candidates that support medical marijuana over those that don't. Since 1996, ten states have enacted medical marijuana laws that confer various state legal protections on persons whom use medical marijuana. Most of the laws have been enacted by the voters. Over the last couple of years, however, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration has ignored the will of the voters in these states and increasingly engaged in controversial raids on medical marijuana patients and their caregivers.
Earlier this year the California legislature passed a resolution urging Congress to pass federal legislation securing a state's right to regulate medical marijuana, allowing individual patients to possess and consume medical marijuana, and allowing individuals deputized by states and localities to cultivate and distribute medical marijuana appropriately.
With the help of Drug Policy Alliance the city and county of Santa Cruz, California, has even taken the extraordinary step of suing the federal government arguing that the federal government does not have the constitutional authority to interfere with state efforts to give terminally ill and chronic pain patients access to physician-recommended medical marijuana that is cultivated by the patients and their caregivers.
Responding to increased tension between state and federal officials, Rep. Hinchey (D-NY) and Rep. Rohrabacher (R-CA) will offer an amendment to the Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations bill that would prevent the DEA from spending tax dollars to undermine state medical marijuana laws. The amendment would not prevent the DEA from arresting people using, growing, or selling marijuana for recreational use. Nor would it prevent the DEA from arresting patients for medical marijuana in states that have not approved it. It would simply put a stop to the DEA arresting medical marijuana patients and their care-givers in states that have approved marijuana for medical use.
It will be the first Congressional vote on the controversial raids, and as a result will force Representatives, many of them from states that have enacted medical marijuana, to take a stand on the issue.
Numerous scientific studies have found that marijuana can have medical benefits for AIDS, cancer and other patients. A 1999 Institute of Medicine study funded by the federal government found that nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety "all can be mitigated by marijuana."
Allowing patients legal access to medical marijuana has been endorsed by numerous organizations, including the AIDS Action Council, American Bar Association, American Public Health Association, American Nurses Association, National Association of Attorneys General, and California Medical Association. Many countries around the world are legalizing marijuana for medical use, including England and Canada.
Background on the Foreign Aid Bill, Colombia Military Aid & HIV/AIDS Funds Taken from an action alert by the Latin America Working Group.
The 2004 foreign aid bill contains almost $600 million in aid to Colombia, the vast majority of which is military and police aid. Since last year, military aid to Colombia can be used for both counter-drug efforts - mostly the aerial fumigation of drug crops - and counter-terrorism/counterinsurgency. Since 2000, the United States has given over $2.5 billion to Colombia.
Fumigation is not an effective drug policy. When we spray the fields of small farmers with herbicide and then don't give them resources to grow alternative crops, farming families are forced to move and plant coca again. Coca cultivation in the Andes has actually increased since we began massively fumigating in 2000 - and families have lost their food crops and livelihoods in the spraying. Fumigation hurts people in Colombia, and it doesn't help stop drug abuse in the United States.
Military aid is also fueling civil conflict. By sending counter-drug and now counter-terrorism aid directly to the Colombian military, we are providing finance for a conflict that takes thousands of civilian lives every year. The Colombian military has documented ties to brutal paramilitary groups who are on the US terrorist list and regularly massacre civilians. It makes no sense to send anti-terrorism aid to a military that collaborates with a terrorist group. The billions of dollars flowing to the Colombian military has not made Colombia safer: in 2000, 14 people a day died violently in Colombia, and that figure has now grown to 19 a day, as brutal guerrilla groups and paramilitary forces continue to attack civilians.
This U.S. aid could instead be used for global health. Funding for HIV/AIDS prevention is badly needed. Some 42 million people live with HIV/AIDS. During 2002, 3.1 million people died of AIDS and an additional five million were infected. In his State of the Union message, President Bush committed the United States to spend $15 billion over the next five years--an average of $3 billion per year--on global HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. Yet his budget for this year requested only $2 billion. This transfer is only one part of the additional funds needed for HIV/AIDS--but it is certainly money better spent.
The votes to end U.S. ffunding of the violence and destruction in Colombia get closer each year. Because the foreign aid bill must be debated and passed each year, there have been a number of amendments to the bill since 2000 that would have reduced military aid to Colombia - and the votes have gotten closer each time. The most recent vote on Colombia was offered this April, when President Bush included $105 million in additional military aid for Colombia in the Iraq war supplemental bill. That amendment, which would have cut out most of the Colombia aid, lost by only 7 votes. To see how your representative voted on the amendment, see http://actioncenter.drugpolicy.org/ctt.asp?u=693&l=2843. If they are in the "aye" category, they supported cutting military aid to Colombia. If they voted well, thank them when you call!
"It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."--Voltaire
Those are both great issues that I think most people on these boards would support. Thanks silversoul!
To make it even easier for people, NORML already has a web site set up for the medicinal marijuana issue where you can just enter your name and address and everything else is taken care of for you. Go to:
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