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June 14, 2005 - The Oakland Tribune (CA)

Poll Finds Opposition To Pot Raids

Results Released One Day Before Congress Considers New Bill

By Josh Richman, Staff Writer

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

On the eve of a vital vote in Congress, medical marijuana advocates Monday unveiled a new poll showing significant public opposition to federal raids on patients who use pot.

A poll of 732 randomly selected registered voters across the nation found 68 percent said the federal government should not prosecute medical marijuana patients now that it has been given the go-ahead to do so by last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The sentiment was slightly higher among men than among women, among those under 45 than those older and among Democrats than among Republicans or independents. But no demographic group's majority supported the raids.

The poll also found 65 percent agreed that adults should be allowed to legally use marijuana for medical purposes.

The poll was commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project and conducted Wednesday through Saturday by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. of Washington, D.C., with a 3.7 percent margin of error.

The MPP revealed the results Monday, one week after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Oakland medical marijuana patient Angel McClary Raich and co-plaintiff Diane Monson of Oroville.

The court rejected an argument that the federal government is constitutionally barred from regulating activity that's completely within a state's borders and doesn't involve money changing hands.

Raich is in Washington today as the medical marijuana battle moves from the courts to Congress. She and other advocates are lobbying hard for a spending-bill amendment co-authored by Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, that would forbid the Justice Department from spending money to raid or prosecute patients or providers in states with medical marijuana laws.

The United Methodist Church and the American Nurses Association wrote to Congress on Monday urging lawmakers to support the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment.

The amendment has been put forth twice before in recent years, each time failing in the House by about 70 votes; advocates hope the Supreme Court ruling could improve their chances.

MPP spokesman Bruce Mirken noted Monday that White House drug czar John Walters last week pronounced medical marijuana dead as a political issue.

A day later, Rhode Island's state Senate voted 34-2 for a medical marijuana bill, and now the MPP's poll shows most Americans oppose the federal government's position.

"He is even more wrong than he usually is," Mirken said of Walters.

An AARP poll of 1,706 adults aged 45 and older conducted late last year found 72 percent believed adults should be allowed to legally use medical marijuana for medical purposes if a physician recommends it.

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