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June 2005
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What to do now that we lost the Hinchey vote

Official vote breakdown here. The Drug Policy Alliance also has a list of how the Representatives voted. You can send them a message saying what you thought of their vote at that link.
But don’t stop there. Here’s a letter I just sent to my local paper:

To the editor:
On June 6, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the federal government has the constitutional power to arrest medical marijuana patients who are obeying state law. It did not, however, say that it was a good idea. Even Justice Stevens, who wrote the majority opinion supporting the government, acknowledged the evidence of the medical value of marijuana and suggested that the issue might be “heard in the halls of Congress.” Americans agreed in a Mason-Dixon poll last week, with 68% saying that the federal government should not prosecute medical marijuana patients.
On June 15, Congress had the chance to pass the Hinchey amendment to the Justice appropriations bill. This would have stopped the spending of federal tax dollars to harass sick people who are obeying both their doctor’s advice and state law.
Where was Representative Gerald C. (Jerry) Weller (11th District)? For the third year in a row, he voted to use our tax dollars to send armed federal agents after old, sick people in California. Is this where we want our money spent? Are our borders secure? Has Osama been caught? Does Weller think we’re made of money?
This was not an amendment to legalize marijuana, or even to legalize medical marijuana. This was only about letting 10 states enforce their own laws and allow their patients to follow the advice of their doctors. Nor was this about the message we’re sending to children. As was documented clearly on the House floor, the use of marijuana by teens actually dropped after California passed medical marijuana (perhaps seeing grandma using it to keep down her chemo medicine takes away some of the allure). No, there’s nothing in Weller’s votes that could help his Illinois constituents. Maybe Representative Weller is just happy spending our money to help out his pharmaceutical buddies.
My tax dollars were hard earned and I don’t appreciate Weller throwing them away.
Respectfully submitted for publication.
– Pete Guither

[Note: if this letter inspires you, please go ahead and use the ideas but add your own wording. It should be your thoughts, not mine.]

Beyond that, we still have work to do. We gained 13 votes this year. 47 more to go. Some phone calls, some visits, some elections…
Support the Truth in Trials Act in the Senate and the State’s Rights to Medical Marijuana Act in the House. Continue to put pressure on the administration regarding re-scheduling of marijuana. The Supreme Court decision opened up some possible doors for future litigation. And most importantly, we need to continue to get support from the people. Vocal, unashamed support.
Take this time to talk to people about it. Write letters to the editor. Be active. Let’s make this the election cycle when politicians can no longer ignore the public’s opinion on this issue. To do that we have to insure that the people will hold them accountable.

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