One of the most egregious outcomes of marijuana prohibition is that many sick people cannot legally access the medicine that works best for them. For many seriously ill people, medical marijuana is the only medicine that relieves their pain and suffering, or treats symptoms of their medical condition, without debilitating side effects. Marijuana has been shown to alleviate symptoms of a huge variety of serious medical conditions including cancer, AIDS, and glaucoma, and is often an effective alternative to synthetic painkillers.
Medical Marijuana Access and Research
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws legalizing the use and production of medical marijuana for qualifying patients under state law. However, the medical use of marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and patients in the remaining states are without any legal access at all. Even in states where medical marijuana laws exist, patients and providers are vulnerable to arrest and interference from federal law enforcement.
Marijuana prohibition has also thwarted research within the United States to uncover the best and most effective uses for marijuana as a medicine, making efforts to reform medical marijuana laws particularly difficult.
DPA played a primary role in the passage of medical marijuana laws in nine states, starting with California’s Proposition 215
in 1996. We seek to implement medical marijuana programs in additional states and to expand existing programs to better protect patients’ rights and to improve patient access to their medicine.
The Drug Policy Alliance is committed to increasing the number of states with medical marijuana laws, supporting and improving existing state medical marijuana programs, protecting medical marijuana patients, and ending the federal ban on medical marijuana
so that all patients within the United States have safe access to quality medicine and research into marijuana’s medicinal benefits can move forward.
Top Congressional Leaders Side with States on Hemp Research and Medical Marijuana
Provisions on D.C. Marijuana Legalization Remain Unclear: Advocates Say Any Congressional Interference with Law that Passed with 70% Support is Outrageous
The final “must pass” federal spending bill that Congress will consider this week, also known as the “cromnibus,”and released by senior appropriators last night includes an amendment that prohibits the U.S. Justice Department from spending any money to undermine state medical marijuana laws. The spending bill also includes a bipartisan amendment that prohibits the DEA from blocking implementation of a federal law passed last year by Congress that allows hemp cultivation for academic and agricultural research purposes in states that allow it.
Marijuana’s medical efficacy derives largely from more than 70 unique chemicals – called cannabinoids – that each have important therapeutic properties. Currently, 23 states, one U.S. territory (Guam), and Washington, DC, have adopted comprehensive medical marijuana laws that provide patients with access to all of marijuana’s beneficial ingredients.
Loses Despite Clear Majority Support, Thanks to Unique Florida Law Requiring 60% for Ballot Initiatives and $5 Million Opposition Campaign
National Implications: Majority Support Sends Strong Message, Regardless of 60% Florida Requirement
Today, a large majority of voters in Florida approved Amendment 2, a ballot initiative that makes Florida, with its huge population and bellwether status in American politics, the very first state in the South to see a majority vote in favor of a medical marijuana law.
Move May Force Producers to Move to a Cash-only Payment System
Santa Fe, NM - Eight months after the Federal Justice Department and Treasury Department announced new guidelines allowing banks to work with marijuana businesses, some of the credit unions in New Mexico sent letters to close to half of the State’s licensed medical marijuana producers saying they will no longer accept their business and proceeded with closing their accounts. The credit unions assert that they are unable to comply with federal guidelines for servicing the accounts. This move leaves producers in the lurch, with either having to operate on a cash only basis o
Patients, Families, and Advocates Thank Cuomo For Federal Request, But Urge Additional State Action to Save Lives of Critically Ill Patients
Patients Call on Governor to Create State-Based Emergency Access Program
New York — Friday, the Cuomo Administration sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Cole following up on an earlier letter to U.S. Attorney General Holder sent on August 13, 2014. Both letters asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to extend a narrow, time-limited exception to federal law to allow the importation of certain strains of medical marijuana from other states for use by children in New York with severe forms of epilepsy.
Global Commission on Drug Policy
This report reflects a new evolution in the thinking of the Global Commission, which includes Kofi Annan, Richard Branson, and the former presidents of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Poland, Portugal and Switzerland. They not only reiterate their demands for decriminalization, alternatives to incarceration, and greater emphasis on public health approaches – but now also call for responsible legal regulation of currently-illegal drugs.
NM Secretary of Health Denies Medical Cannabis Advisory Board’s Recommendation to Add Alzheimer’s Disease and Neurodegenerative Dementia to the List of Qualifying Conditions
SANTA FE—Yesterday the Secretary of Health denied a petition to add Alzheimer’s disease to the list of medical conditions eligible for the medical cannabis program, even though the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Advisory Board voted unanimously to recommend making neurodegenerative dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, qualifying conditions.
Department of Health Continues to Obstruct MAB’s Statutory Role to Advise the Program; Program Staff Refuse to Answer Any Questions Posed by the Board About the Evidence Supporting Recommended Rule Changes
SANTA FE, NM – Today, the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Advisory Board held a special hearing on proposed rule changes governing the state’s medical cannabis program. The board, frustrated that they were never formally consulted with by the Department of Health prior to releasing proposed rule changes, scheduled the hearing to listen to patients, licensed providers, advocates and the Department staff to inform their recommendations on the rules to the Department.
Physician’s Assistant Donna Smith Was Legally Enrolled in State’s Medical Cannabis Program
DPA: Presbyterian Health Services Ignoring State Law
ALBUQUERQUE, NM — Donna Smith, a veteran who served our country with distinction, and who is a licensed physician’s assistant was recently terminated from her position with Presbyterian Health Services due to her enrollment in the state’s medical marijuana program.
“As both a patient and a healthcare provider, I am deeply disappointed by Presbyterian Healthcare Systems’ decision to terminate me for nothing more than my enrollment in New Mexico's Medical Cannabis Program," said Smith.
Need for Emergency Access is Clearer than Ever with Recent Deaths
Patients, Families, and Advocates Thank Cuomo and Urge His Continued Leadership and Action to Ensure Critically Ill Patients Receive Immediate Access to Medicine
New York — Today, Governor Cuomo called for swift implementation of New York’s recently passed medical marijuana law. Since the medical marijuana bill was signed into law on July 7, three children who suffered from severe seizure disorders have already passed. These deaths have made even clearer what we already knew – the eighteen month or longer timeline for implementing New York’s medical marijuana law is simply too long for some patients who face life-threatening or terminal illnesses.