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House Backs Prosecution of Medical Marijuana Users

June 16, 2005|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Yes, the government can make a federal case out of medical marijuana use, the House said Wednesday.

Less than a week ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the government could prosecute medical marijuana users, even when state laws permitted doctor-prescribed use of the drug.

In response, the House rejected a bid by advocates to undercut the decision.

By a 264-161 vote, the House turned down an amendment that would have blocked the Justice Department from prosecuting people in the 10 states where the practice is legal, including California.

Advocates say using marijuana is the only way that many chronically ill people, such as AIDS and cancer patients, can relieve their symptoms.

Opponents of the amendment said it would undercut efforts to combat marijuana abuse.

They said Marinol, a government-approved prescription drug containing the active ingredient in marijuana, offered comparable relief.

The medical marijuana vote came as the House debated a $57.5-billion bill covering the departments of Commerce, Justice and State.

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