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Vexed by Five States' Initiatives
Renee Emry walked
into the office of Rep. Bill McCollum last
Emry, 38, suffers
from multiple sclerosis, and she wanted to urge McCollum, a Florida Republican,
to support legalization of
"I find that when I medicate appropriately, it calms my nerves, so I fired up a fatty,"said Emry, who came to the Capitol from Ann Arbor, Mich., on behalf of a group called the Marijuana Policy Project. "It's not like I was trying to be rude, crude and totally uncalled for. I was there to educate the man."
by Capitol police, Emry faces trial on a drug
Not so easily
ushered away is the issue. Medical marijuana
Voters in California
and Arizona approved medical marijuana
polls might be suspect, the public does face a real
and federal officials are frustrated. The
a way to legally introduce people to possibly a lifetime of
The proposals' supporters hope they are establishing a beachhead and that eventually marijuana will be legally available from doctors nationwide.
popularity raises the question of how, after years
If some or all
of the initiatives pass next week in Washington,
there is little significance if these things pass, but
It is not entirely
an accident that medical marijuana is catching on now. A group called
Americans for Medical Rights,
The group is
bankrolled by three millionaires: financier George
is airing commercials that stress the theme of
let us treat you with every medicine that can help," Dr.
and anti-drug activists are furious at this
pushed through a congressional resolution
always phrased as though the doctor is going to provide a
a sinister agenda, the legalization of all drugs,
Behind the social
question -- Is this just a way for old hippies to
somewhat divided. Supporters of medical marijuana
Opponents say the evidence is far from conclusive. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved marijuana as safe and effective, and the Drug Enforcement Administration lists it as a "Schedule I" drug, meaning it has no medicinal value.
the nation's drug czar, held a press conference
to leave medicine to the scientists and doctors of
That, however, is not the view of Stormy Ray, a multiple sclerosis patient in Oregon. She began smoking marijuana in 1991, she aid, when her regular medicines stopped working.
``I was absolutely amazed,'' said Ray, a grandmother who said she had opposed drugs. ``It was like somebody finally found the right way to turn my body back on. It took away the nerve pain. I could not imagine anything being able to do that.''
If the initiatives
do pass, that could be just the beginning of a
In California, which passed a medical marijuana measure in 1996, legal confusion prevails. Federal authorities say they will crack down on doctors who recommend marijuana to patients, but a court has temporarily barred that crackdown.
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