Bipartisan Bill To Legalize Medical Marijuana Reintroduced In CongressHR 2087 Grants Leeway To State Legislatures, Would End Bush Administration’s Assault On Medical Marijuana Patients

Washington, DC: Republicans Ron Paul (TX) and Dana Rohrabacher (CA), along with Democrats Sam Farr (CA), Barney Frank (MA), Maurice Hinchey (NY), and 25 co-sponsors reintroduced legislation yesterday in Congress to permit the use of medicinal marijuana by seriously ill patients.

HR 2087 seeks to reschedule cannabis under federal law so that physicians may legally prescribe it in states that have recognized its use under state law. It also permits state legislatures that wish to establish medical marijuana distribution systems the legal authority to do so. Eleven states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington – have enacted laws exempting qualified patients who use cannabis medicinally from state criminal penalties.

“It makes no sense at all to have the federal government overriding a vote of the people of a state on what should be criminalized and what shouldn’t be criminalized in terms of personal consumption,” Rep. Rohrabacher said at a news conference marking the bill’s reintroduction. “The federal government should butt out.”

Talk-show host and medicinal cannabis patient Montel Williams, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1999, joined members of Congress in calling for legal access to medical marijuana. Williams said that he has legal permission to use cannabis in both Canada and the state of California, but could be arrested for medicating himself in the nation’s capitol. “I’m hurting right now. Why? Because I knew I had to come to Washington DC and I can’t carry [cannabis] because I know I’d get busted,” he said.

HR 2087 co-sponsor Maurice Hinchey said the bill was about “individual choice, health care, and states’ rights,” and added that he expected to reintroduce a federal amendment in June barring the Justice Department from spending federal dollars to prosecute medicinal cannabis patients and providers in states that allow its use.

NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre urged for Congressional hearings on the bill. “Passage of HR 2087 would remove the threat of federal prosecution of patients who are using cannabis therapeutically in compliance with their state laws, and would effectively get the federal government out of the way of those states that wish to regulate marijuana as a medicine,” he said.

For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500. Additional information regarding HR 2087 is available on NORML’s website at: