ACLU Letter to the House Urging Support of the Farr-Rohrabacher Medical Marijuana Amendment and the Flake Amendment on Travel to Cuba to the FY 2005 Commerce, Justice, State, and Judiciary Appropriations Bill

Dear Representative:                     

We are writing to urge you to support several amendments that will be offered to the FY 2005 Commerce, Justice, State, and Judiciary Appropriations Bill that is scheduled to be voted on by the House of Representatives as soon as Wednesday July 7, 2004.  The ACLU urges you to support the Farr/Rohrabacher Medical Marijuana amendment that would prevent the federal government from interfering with state efforts to provide terminally ill and chronic pain patients' access to doctor-prescribed medicinal marijuana.  In addition, we encourage you to support the Cuba Travel amendment that is being offered by Rep. Flake, which would restrict federal funds from being used to enforce the draconian ban on travel to Cuba.

Farr/Rohrabacher Medical Marijuana Amendment

Reps. Sam Farr (D-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher's (R-CA) amendment would prohibit the Justice Department from spending any of the funds appropriated in the bill to arrest or prosecute medical marijuana patients in states where medical marijuana is legal. Since 1996, voters in 11 states have passed medical marijuana laws.[1]

The public is strongly in favor of allowing the use of medical marijuana. In a 2001 Pew Research Center poll, 73% of Americans were in favor of medical marijuana and a 2002 Time/CNN poll found that 80% of Americans support it. Medical studies have concluded that marijuana has medical value in treating patients with serious illnesses such as AIDS, glaucoma, cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and chronic pain. The Institute of Medicine in 1999, in the most comprehensive study of medical marijuana's efficacy to date, concluded ""Nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety . . . all can be mitigated by marijuana."" Marijuana is one of the safest medical substances known. No one has ever died from an overdose.

The Farr/Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment would only prevent the federal government from prosecuting patients with cancer, AIDS and MS who use marijuana for medical reasons in states that have enacted medical marijuana laws. 

It would not prevent the Justice Department from arresting people using, growing, or selling marijuana for recreational use. Nor would it stop the Justice Department from arresting medical marijuana patients in the states that have not approved the drug for this use.  For these reasons, we strongly urge you to support the Farr/Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment. 

Flake Amendment on Cuba Travel.  

Despite the end of the Cold War and the failure of American policy limiting travel to be effective in creating democratic change, the Bush Administration insists on further tightening restrictions on travel to Cuba.  These restrictions will not only continue to severely restrict educational and cultural exchange, they would even make it more difficult for family members to travel to see their loved ones.  The stepped-up restrictions defy the will of the American people, as repeatedly expressed through their elected representatives in both Houses of Congress, who want the ban on travel ended, not made even more draconian.  They also defy common sense, mismanaging scarce government resources that could be used to combat terrorism and organized crime by assigning personnel to locate and punish Americans who may have done nothing more dangerous than take a bicycle trip in Cuba.  Americans have a clear constitutional right to engage in such travel, and the Cold War considerations that the government cited to justify infringing on that right no longer make sense.

We urge you to support the Flake amendment that would prohibit funding to enforce the travel ban.

We urge you to support the Farr/Rohrabacher Medical Marijuana amendment and the Flake Cuba Travel amendment to the 2005 Commerce, Justice, State, and Judiciary Appropriations Bill to be considered on the floor this week.


Laura W. Murphy 

Jesselyn McCurdy
Legislative Counsel



[1] Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington have passed medical marijuana laws.

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