DC NORML, the local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, would like to commend Ryan Grim and the Washington City Paper for recognizing the role of Congress and the Barr Amendment in the premature death of Jonathan Magbie (“Congressional Malpractice,” 11/4).

If D.C. law reflected the will of D.C. residents, as demonstrated by the passage of Initiative 59, Jonathan Magbie would have had legal access to medical marijuana. D.C. voters overwhelmingly supported the right to use medical marijuana under doctors’ supervision. Unfortunately for Magbie, a congressman from Georgia whose political ideology starkly contrasted with that of a vast majority of D.C. residents had more influence on the city’s marijuana policies than the people of the city.

Bob Barr defends his amendment by claiming that Congress did not want to send a mixed message to America’s children about marijuana. DC NORML, however, heard Congress’s message loud and clear: Marijuana prohibition must be maintained at all costs. Congress refuses to revise its stance on marijuana even though the majority of Americans do not support criminal penalties for low-level marijuana offenders; despite the plethora of scientific evidence that demonstrates marijuana’s medicinal value and limited health risks; and, most disturbingly, in light of the fact that current marijuana policy has resulted in the deaths of otherwise innocent Americans such as Magbie.

Since Magbie’s death, neither Congress nor the D.C. Council has done anything to address the effects of the Barr Amendment. Therefore, it is up to the people of D.C. to make sure that the politics of prohibition will cease to override respect for human life and respect for popular sovereignty. DC NORML encourages the citizens of the city to unite in opposition to the Barr Amendment.

Co-presidents DC NORML