Thursday, June 22, 2006

Presbyterian Church Votes to Support Legal Access to Medical Marijuana

Presbyterian Church (USA) Votes to Support Legal Access to Medical Marijuana

Church Joins Other Major Religious Denominations Urging Congress to

Stop the White House’s Persecution of Medical Marijuana Patients

CONTACT: Troy Dayton, IDPI associate director, 301-379-2857,

Sharon Youngs, Presbyterian Church (USA), 888-728-7228 x5750

(Birmingham, AL) – Yesterday, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) became the latest religious body to endorse legal access to medical marijuana for seriously ill patients. By consensus, the denomination passed a resolution “urging Federal legislation that allows for its use and that provides for the production and distribution of the plant for those purposes.”

This comes just days before a major medical marijuana vote in the U.S. Congress. In the next few days, Congress will vote on an amendment to prohibit the use of federal funds for arresting medical marijuana patients in those states that allow medical marijuana. Medical marijuana patients are already protected from arrest by state and local police in eleven states, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) joins the United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, Union for Reform Judaism, Progressive National Baptist Convention, and the Unitarian Universalist Association in support of medical marijuana.

“Medical marijuana is an issue of mercy,” said Rev. Lynn Bledsoe, a Presbyterian minister from Alabama who works as a hospice chaplain. “As people of faith, we are called to stand up for humans who are suffering needlessly. It is unconscionable that seriously ill patients can be arrested for making an earnest attempt at healing by using medical marijuana with their doctors’ approval.”

“Legislators who give lip service to ‘moral values’ had better be consistent on the medical marijuana issue,” said Charles Thomas, executive director of the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative. “The Presbyterian Church (USA) joins six other major denominations explicitly supporting medical marijuana, while no denominations’ governing bodies have ever taken an official position against it.”

“Being seriously ill is stressful enough already without living in fear of arrest for taking doctor-recommended medicine,” said Rev. Jim McNeil, a representative of the Homestead Presbytery in Nebraska, the regional body that brought the resolution to the General Assembly. “It is the job of religious denominations to give voice to those who cannot speak up for themselves. We pray that Congress will have the compassion to stop this war on patients.”

The denominations’ full positions are available at

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