Medical Marijuana

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. 

Maryland Enacts Law Allowing Academic Studies of Medical Marijuana

New Law Unlikely to Provide Patients Access to Medicine Absent Changes in Federal Policy

Statement from Drug Policy Alliance's Amanda Reiman

Today, Maryland enacted a law allowing approved academic research institutions in that state to establish investigational, research-oriented medical marijuana studies.  Unlike 18 other states that have adopted medical marijuana laws that allow patients to obtain medical marijuana by growing it themselves or purchasing it from state-licensed businesses, Maryland’s law requires that patients obtain their medicine only from a limited number of research hospitals approved to conduct medical marijuana research.

Contact: Amanda Reiman 510-730-2811

Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in New York State Senate & Assembly

Legislation Would End the Needless Suffering of Thousands of Seriously Ill New Yorkers

Statement from Drug Policy Alliance’s Julie Netherland

Today, New York State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and Senator Diane Savino introduced a bill that would create one of the nation’s most tightly regulated medical marijuana programs.

Contact: Tony Newman: 646-335-5384

Ethan Nadelmann: The White House Experiments With Weed

Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, explains that recent marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington isn't simple. The Federal response (or lack thereof) will determine how the policy is actualized.

Legislation to Protect Medical Marijuana States Introduced

Bill Would Remove Marijuana from Schedule I and Halt Federal Government Interference With State Medical Marijuana Regulation

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Yesterday, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced legislation that would recognize the medicinal use of marijuana and remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

The issue of regulating medical marijuana would be returned to the states, and individuals complying with state medical marijuana laws would be exempt from federal arrest and prosecution.  The bill, the States' Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, H.R. 689, also requires greater access to marijuana for medical research.


Contact: Jasmine Tyler 202-294-8292 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215

D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Rules that DEA Does Not Have to Reconsider Marijuana's Schedule I Status

DPA Statement: Feds Are Creating a Catch-22 For Research and Policy

On Tuesday, January 22, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in a case challenging the Drug Enforcement Administration’s designation of marijuana as a Schedule I substance.  The court was to decide whether the DEA followed its own rules when making the decision not to review scientific evidence that supports removing marijuana from Schedule I. Today, the court ruled that the DEA did adhere to their rules and did not have to reconsider the scheduling of marijuana.

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215

First N.J. Medical Marijuana Alternative Treatment Center to Open Today in Montclair

Patients and Advocates Overjoyed to Have Safe and Legal Access to Medical Marijuana

Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Meagan Glaser 609-496-3497

Colorado Amendment 64

November 6, 2012

This is the law that was passed by the voters in Colorado legalizing and regulating marijuana.

Washington I-502

November 6, 2012

This is the law that was passed by the voters in Washington State legalizing and regulating marijuana.

New Mexico Department of Health’s Medical Cannabis Medical Advisory Board Unanimously Recommends to Keep PTSD as a Qualifying Condition

The Final Decision Rests in the Hands of the Acting Secretary of Health

(Santa Fe, NM) – Today, the New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program’s Medical Advisory Board unanimously recommended to the Acting Secretary of Health to keep PTSD as qualifying condition and to deny Dr. William Ulwelling’s petition to remove PTSD from the list of eligible medical conditions for enrollment in the program. The Secretary of Health will have the final decision.

Contact:  Emily Kaltenbach 505-920-5256

Medical Cannabis Patients, including Montel Williams, Oppose Petition to Withdraw PTSD as a Qualifying Condition in New Mexico

New Mexico Department of Health’s Medical Cannabis Medical Advisory Board Will Hear the Petition, Tomorrow, in Santa Fe

Psychiatrists, Military Veterans and Other Patients Scheduled to Testify at the Hearing, Asking the Governor and the Secretary of Health Not to Take Away Their Medicine

(Santa Fe, NM) – Tomorrow, from 1 to 5 pm, the New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program’s Medical Advisory Board will hold a public hearing to consider Dr. William Ulwelling’s petition to remove PTSD from the list of eligible medical conditions for enrollment in the program. The hearing is scheduled in the Harold Runnels Building’s auditorium, 1190 St. Francis Drive in Santa Fe.  The Secretary of Health will have the final decision.

Contact:  Emily Kaltenbach 505-920-5256

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