The Presbyterian Church (USA) has become the seventh major religious organization in the United States to support the use of medical marijuana, an issue expected to come before the US House of Representatives during the week. "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," said the Rev. Lynn Bledsoe, a Presbyterian minister from Alabama who works as a hospice chaplain, in a statement issued by the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative. . .
The consensus vote of the church’s general assembly in Birmingham, Alabama on 21 June came as the US lawmakers were to consider a bill prohibiting the federal government from using any of its budget to take legal action against medical marijuana users who comply with their state laws and have a doctor’s order.
Currently, 11 US states allow medical uses of marijuana following a doctor’s prescription, but federal law enforcement officials can arrest people in those states.
"As people of faith, we are called to stand up for humans who are suffering needlessly," said Bledsoe, "Medical marijuana is an issue of mercy." Polls show that about three out of four Americans support allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for patients who need it. However, the US Congress voted by 264 votes to 162 against legalised medical marijuana in 2005, and experts do not expect the current bill to pass either.
Other religious groups endorsing the use of medical marijuana include the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the Unitarian Universalist Association. The Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative seeks to promote "less coercive" alternatives to the war on drugs.
Those supporting the use of marijuana say it helps in short-term use for those suffering debilitating symptoms such as vomiting or intractable pain and should be permitted when other approved medications have failed. (Ecumenical News International)