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Medicinal Marijuana Organizers Lobby for House Bill



H.R. 2618, introduced by U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) on November 10, 1995, has 17 co-sponsors and continues to be lobbied by medicinal marijuana supporters (letter, Marijuana Policy Project, June 26, 1996).

In addition to Rep. Frank , the current co-sponsors include: Anthony Beilenson (D-CA), Brian Bilbray (R-CA), George Brown (D-CA), Tom Campbell (R-CA), John Conyers (D-MI), Ron Dellums (D-CA), Steve Gunderson (R-WI), Harry Johnston (D-FL), Joseph Kennedy (D-MA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), John Olver (D-MA), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Pete Stark (D-CA), Gerry Studds (D-MA) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).

H.R. 2618 was introduced "to provide for the therapeutic use of [marijuana] in situations involving life-threatening or sense-threatening illnesses and to provide adequate supplies of [marijuana] for such use." The bill states that a "physician must file a written application" and "will use the requested [marijuana] solely for the treatment of glaucoma, AIDS, wasting syndrome, muscle spasms from certain spastic disorders, including multiple sclerosis, paraplegia and quadriplegia, or the nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy or radiology (Billie Felix Jeyes, "Indicted on Three Counts of Compassion," Everybody's News, April 26- May 2, 1996, p. 6)."

Precedent for the bill exists. In 1978, the FDA began the Compassionate IND program in which patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, paralysis, AIDS and chronic pain could legally obtain medicinal marijuana from the program. The Compassionate IND program was closed to new applicants in 1992. Eight people are still alive who receive marijuana under the program.

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and the Americans for Compassionate Use, as well as many other medicinal marijuana advocates, have been writing House members to support the bill. Among the members being lobbied are the Speaker of the House. According to late civil liberties attorney, William M. Kuntsler, writing in the January 23, 1995 issue of The Nation, on September 16, 1981, Newt Gingrich and three Republican co-sponsors introduced a medical marijuana bill similar to H.R. 2618 (H.R. 4498, 97th Congress).