ASA NATIONAL POLICY AGENDA

110TH CONGRESS 2007-2009
The use of medical cannabis can improve health care outcomes, including adherence to conventional medical treatments. However, federal law prohibits the use of cannabis even for medical purposes. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is working to change federal policy to meet the immediate needs of patients, their providers, physicians, other health care providers and medical researchers. ASA and our members encourage Congress, the Administration, and others to support long-term solutions for safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and programs that advance medical and scientific research.
1. Establish Federal Legal Protections for Medical Cannabis Patients and their Providers California and 10 other states have passed laws which permit seriously or chronically ill patients to use cannabis without legal sanction while under the care and supervision of a licensed physician. However, medical cannabis patients and their providers in these states and nationwide suffer pervasive discrimination in employment, child custody, housing, public accommodation, education and medical care because of misinformation about the medical efficacy of cannabis and a lack of statutory legal protections. Furthermore, patients and their care providers are vulnerable to federal raids, arrest, prosecution, and incarceration. Since June 2005, when the Supreme Court issued its decision in Gonzales v. Raich, the federal government has conducted dozens of raids on licensed medical cannabis patient collectives and dispensaries across the state of California, costing taxpayers more than $10 million. Currently, the Department of Justice is seeking to prosecute nearly 100 licensed medical cannabis patients and care providers. Unfortunately, these defendants will likely be forbidden from explaining that their use of marijuana was therapeutic and in compliance with state law, limiting their ability to present a successful defense. ASA will work with its members, Congress, the Administration, and our coalition partners to establish comprehensive federal legal protections for medical cannabis patients and their providers. 2.Implement the Institute of Medicine recommendations, provided in its 1999 report, Marijuana and Medicine. The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) 1999 comprehensive report on the therapeutic use of cannabis, Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base, specifically recommends that numerous clinical trials be conducted to determine appropriate therapeutic use of cannabis. Unfortunately, political and bureaucratic obstacles inhibit clinical research that meets the standards required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

ASA will work with its members, Congress, the Administration, and our coalition partners to support the implementation of the recommendations provided by the Institute of Medicine and to remove federal barriers for medical and scientific research on cannabis for therapeutic use. 3. Create a National, Comprehensive and Safe Access Plan for Chronic and Seriously Ill Patients In 1978, the federal government created the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program, which permitted patients to use federally-cultivated cannabis provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and grown at the University of Mississippi. However, in 1992, facing an onslaught of new applicants, many of whom were suffering from HIV/AIDS, the Public Health Service closed the program to all new applicants. Today, while a handful of surviving patients continue to receive a monthly supply of cannabis from the federal government to alleviate the symptoms of a wide variety of conditions and thousands of Californians enjoy safe and legal access through regulated community-based dispensaries, collectives and cooperatives thousands of patients across the country are denied safe access to cannabis for therapeutic use. The next step is to create safe and legal access to cannabis for patients nationwide. Comprehensive access to cannabis is possible and improves health care outcomes, including adherence to conventional medical treatments. Research suggests that people living with HIV/AIDS on HAART therapy and people affected by the Hepatitis-C virus undergoing interferon and ribavirin treatments who use cannabis to combat the side-effects of conventional medical treatments are about three times more likely to remain on their prescribed drug therapies than non-users of cannabis. ASA will work with its members, Congress, the Administration, and our coalition partners to support a national comprehensive and safe access plan for chronic or seriously ill patients who use cannabis to combat the symptoms of their clinical conditions while under the care of a licensed physician.

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