HOUSE RULES MARIJUANA DANGEROUS
By CASSANDRA BURRELL Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) Marijuana is a dangerous and addictive drug and should not be legalized for medical use, the House said in a resolution passed 310-93 Tuesday.
Efforts to legalize marijuana for medical use in several states are sending the wrong message to teen-agers and the nation as a whole, supporters of the resolution said during debate on the House floor.
The Marijuana Policy Project, which opposed the measure, denounced the vote. "This resolution shows that the House is completely out of touch with the American people," said Robert Kampia, the group's executive director. "Eighty percent of the American people support medicinal marijuana, so it is clear that the vast majority also oppose this mean-spirited resolution." But the sponsor of the bill, Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Fla., said repeated scientific testing has not proved a medical use for marijuana.
"Science cannot be based on opinion polls," he said. "The research clearly demonstrates that smoked marijuana impairs normal brain functions and damages the heart, lungs, reproductive and immune systems." Some Democrats, however, accused Republicans of grandstanding in order to win more votes in the November congressional elections. Scientists should be allowed to continue to study the drug, said Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass.
"No one who has watched a cancer patient with uncontrollable nausea for hours on end could make such an argument," he said, noting that cocaine and morphine are used for medical purposes.
"It seems to me that if we're going to ban the use of marijuana in the face of growing medical evidence of its therapeutic value, then we should ban morphine and cocaine as well," Delahunt said.
The Senate has not yet voted on a similar measure.
The House resolution asks the Food and Drug Administration to submit a report outlining how the federal government enforces current law prohibiting the sale and use of marijuana and other controlled substances. It also asks the attorney general to send Congress data on how much marijuana was seized in the United States and the number of federal marijuana-related arrests and prosecutions from 1992 to 1997.
"The resolution is based on numerous committee hearings, testimony and research presented, all of which conclude that marijuana not only contains no plausible medicinal benefits, but is harmful to one's health when smoked," said a statement released by the House Republican Conference. California and Arizona voters passed state ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana for medical use in 1996, and 30 states and the District of Columbia are considering similar measures. The Arizona Legislature, however, has passed legislation to prevent the dispensing of drugs not approved as medicine by the FDA.
is H.J. Res. 117.