Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Press on the MMJ protest

Yesterday's protest in DC at the Department of Health and Human Services was apparently a success. Americans for Safe Access, a Berkley, Calif., patient-advocacy group filed a petition under the Data Quality Act on Monday charging the agency with spreading misinformation that undermines the medicinal use of marijuana.

Americans for Safe Access says it is the first liberal, non-profit group to use Data Quality on behalf of U.S. patients. The law gives citizens the right to dispute scientific information disseminated by government agencies and requires the agencies to respond to petitions within two months.

I haven't seen any numbers on the attendance but this article on the demonstration quotes some friends.

"Without cannabis, I'm pretty much a basket case," said Michael Krawitz, 40, a disabled Air Force veteran from Ironto, Va., who uses the illicit drug to treat service-related injuries.

At a press conference Monday, Krawitz wore a red-and-white T-shirt declaring himself a medical marijuana user. "I don't know how to say this any clearer - I need this medicine," he said. "And the government needs to get out of my way so I can have it."

And appearing on behalf of Parents Against Prohibition, Erin travelled a long way to make her point.

Erin Hildebrandt, 33, a Portland, Ore., resident who has Crohn's disease, said she recently moved 3,000 miles from her home in Maryland just so she could have easier access to marijuana. The mother of five children, Hildebrandt said marijuana is the only drug that gives her relief from the debilitating gastrointestinal disorder.

Through teary eyes, Hildebrandt said, "All I want is to be a law-abiding citizen. I want my kids to know that it's important to work within our system. I want them to be able to look up to me."

The professionals in medicine and law also had much to say.

At the press conference, physicians endorsed the use of marijuana as medicine, as did a research biologist, the attorney who prepared the legal petition and a handful of patients.

..."There is no magic drug that works for everyone all the time," said Robert J. Melamede, biology department chair at the University of Colorado. "But there are many, many people who will benefit from marijuana use because of the way it affects their system. And the argument that we don't know the chemicals that are in this plant is really very false."

And your government has known this for years. The evidence abounds that this plant is basically harmless.

UPDATE: Baylen from D'Alliance checks into the comment section to tell us he counted about 75 people at the rally but don't let the small numbers fool you. There were some big names in drug policy reform at that rally including most of the staff at Drug Policy Alliance.

Americans for Safe Acess are reporting fourteen people were arrested. D'Alliance co-blogger Alan Heymann notes that at least one of the arrestees, a medical marijuana patient, looked about to faint as she was led away with her arms handcuffed behind her back.


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