Pubdate: Thu, 11 Dec 2003
Source: Los Angeles City Beat (CA)
Copyright: 2003 Southland Publishing
Author: Bruce Mirken


Two weeks ago, 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.
["Street," Dec. 4.]

U.S. Rep. Mark Souder (D-In.), chairman of the House subcommittee that
oversees drug policy, is now seeking co-sponsors 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

Director of Communications

Marijuana Policy Project

Washington, DC
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