Pubdate: Mon, 01 Dec 2003
Source: San Mateo County Times, The (CA)
Copyright: 2003, MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers
Author: Bruce Mirken
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


JUDGE A. HOWARD MATZ demonstrated justice and compassion in refusing to 
send Los Angeles medical marijuana defendant Scott Imler to jail for 
helping the sick. But most such acts of mercy could soon be illegal.

U.S. Rep. Mark Souder, D-Indiana, chairman of the House subcommittee that 
oversees drug policy, is now seeking cosponsors for the "Drug Sentencing 
Reform Act." This bill would sharply limit the ability of judges like Matz 
to show mercy to defendants in drug cases, including medical marijuana 
cases. Indeed, the measure would treat medical marijuana providers like 
Imler as worse than child molesters under federal law.

Amazingly, Souder's bill would increase the punishment for those who 
provide high-quality medical marijuana to patients -- who might be harmed 
by having to use low-potency marijuana that requires inhalation of much 
larger amounts of smoke to get the relief they need.

Recently, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said, "In too many 
cases, mandatory minimum sentences are unwise and unjust." This proposal 
from Souder -- an influential member with much clout in Congress -- will 
make the problem worse.

Bruce Mirken

Marijuana Policy Project

Washington, D.C.
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