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Republican Bill Targets Medicinal Marijuana

Republican Bill Targets Medicinal Marijuana


A bill being developed by Republican U.S. representative Mark Souder aimed at increasing penalties for federal marijuana laws violations includes a provision forbidding judges from imposing light sentences on people who use or grow marijuana to treat the symptoms of such diseases as cancer, glaucoma, and AIDS. The Drug Sentencing Reform Act would limit the ability of federal judges to adopt 'downward departures' in sentencing guidelines, such as the one-day prison sentence given in June 2003 to Ed Rosenthal, who was convicted of growing 100 marijuana plants designed for medicinal use in an Oakland warehouse. Federal officials had asked for a five-year sentence. The bill also would boost penalties for marijuana growers based on the level of THC, marijuana's active ingredient, in the plants. 'This bill is a direct threat to the health of patients and to the caregivers and loved ones who assist them,' says Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project. Calls to Souder's officer were not returned. It's unclear whether Souder will officially introduce the measure when Congress begins a new session in January.

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