WASHINGTON: In the end, last week?s Supreme Court decision on medical marijuana wasn?t about the drug at all ? a fact that advocates are now scrambling to make clear to Congress and the media.
The decision ? which focused on what happens when federal and state laws contradict ? comes down as Congress prepares to vote on a bill legalizing medical marijuana. So even as the Court ruled against Angel Raich and Diane Monson, the two California residents who were using the drug to cope with pain, advocates on both sides are taking their fight from the judicial halls to Capitol Hill.
?The first thing now is that people understand what the ruling means and what it doesn?t,? said Bruce Mirken, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). ?It has not overturned state medical marijuana laws. The Court has essentially punted the ball to Congress.?
The pro-marijuana group is now issuing press releases, calling editorial teams, holding press conferences, and putting grassroots pressure on Congress ahead of the vote.
The messages focus on the drug as ?incredibly safe? as well as on public support for medicinal use.
Fenton Communications is managing media relations for Raich, who will travel to DC to add her voice to the MPP campaign.
?The media?s been very good about ? telling Angel?s story,? said Parker Blackman, deputy GM and MD of Fenton?s San Francisco office.
But in an e-mail, Lana Beck, the communications director for the Drug Free America Foundation, called the ruling ?a big win for drug policy.?
?Our focus will stay the same,? she said. ?We will continue to reduce drug use and addiction through awareness and education, as well as share our resources and expertise with states being targeted by the pro-drug lobby.?
She added that outreach would also include promoting drug control policy and refuting ?misinformation being spread by the pro-drug lobby.?