Pubdate: Wed, 16 Jul 2008
Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Copyright: 2008 Mountain Xpress
Author: Ervin Dargan


We at Americans for Safe Access of Western North Carolina have been 
informed by Rep. Heath Shuler's office that our congressman will not 
support the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment coming up for a vote this 
month. This amendment to the Justice Department appropriations bill 
would prevent the Drug Enforcement Administration and the federal 
government from interfering in states where medical cannabis 
(marijuana) is legal, ending the raids on dispensaries and the 
intimidation of patients.

So far this year, the DEA has conducted more than 50 raids against 
legal medical-cannabis collectives in California, ignoring the will 
of the voters and forcing the chronically ill out onto the streets 
for the medicine that is often their only choice. Conventional 
narcotic medications fail miserably for chronic pain and many other 
conditions . .

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) has sent a 
letter to the DEA questioning the raids and the new tactic of 
threatening landlords with forfeiture if they lease to 
cannabis-collective owners. The Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment would 
put an end to this waste of resources and disrespect of state law.

It seems Rep. Shuler's quick, emphatic refusal to support this 
legislation points to groupthink and Shuler's membership in the Blue 
Dog Democrats--37 self-described conservative Democrats, mostly 
Southern, espousing the same traditional values hijacked by the 
neocon Republicans. That the Blue Dog Dems would embrace the neocons' 
version of conservatism to guide their morality is disappointing. It 
makes me long for the true conservative and traditional values as 
exemplified by my ancestor, Sen. Sam Ervin from Morganton. Sen. Sam 
was a true statesman, and his constant guiding light and priority was 
the U.S. Constitution--a document that was amended for the 
prohibition of alcohol; not so for the modern prohibition ("Drug 
War"). It would be heartening to see Heath Shuler rise to the 
occasion, stand up for the Constitution and lead the Blue Dog Dems 
out of the doghouse. If their group is frustrating the leadership in 
the House by siding with the Republicans on crucial issues, the Blue 
Dogs should read their contract with the people: Their duty is to 
their constituents, not the establishment and lobbyists in Washington.

Twelve states have now legalized medical cannabis and should be able 
to decide what is best for the health and welfare of their citizens, 
as the Constitution stipulates. Removing the federal government from 
the equation would simplify the passage of North Carolina's own 
medical-cannabis legislation. Please contact Rep. Heath Shuler's 
office now, as Hinchey-Rohrabacher will be voted on soon: Asheville 
office, 252-1651; D.C. office, 202-225-6401.

- -- Ervin Dargan
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom