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.
Scott Ward's Story
Scott Ward is 24 years old and suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. He was diagnosed in November of 2006 while training for the Marine Corps Marathon. Scott went from running five miles everyday to relying on family members to assist him in and out of his bed and the bath tub.
Sean McGrath's Story
Sean McGrath was 28 years old when he died from a rare form of cancer. Sean had great doctors, a loving family and friends to support him during his illness. But Sean’s struggle was made more difficult because none of the available medications worked to relieve his terrible nausea and vomiting.
Law enforcement attitudes towards medical marijuana in California have been mixed. Generally, many law enforcement officials and associations have been hostile to medical marijuana, since California’s voters legalized it in 1996 and continuing today.
Patients and Advocates Cheer This Important Step Forward
Trenton, NJ— Yesterday, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services issued a permit to Montclair-based Greenleaf Compassion Center to begin growing medicinal marijuana. Advocates, patients and families cheered this long-awaited act as an important step in the process of bringing medical marijuana to the state of New Jersey and ensuring safe access to an effective medication for seriously ill individuals.
Coalition to President Obama: “It is time for a new approach on marijuana policy.”
Founder of Oaksterdam, Richard Lee, Main Proponent of CA’s Historic Prop. 19 Effort to Tax and Regulate Marijuana, Briefly Detained
Statement from Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance
OAKLAND, CA—Today, federal authorities, including U.S. Marshals, IRS and DEA agents, conducted an early-morning raid of Oakland’s Oaksterdam University, briefly detaining its founder, Richard Lee, who was subsequently released. Agents also conducted raids at two other medical marijuana locations. Federal authorities have not released any details about the raid, saying only that it was part of an ongoing investigation.
Announcement Comes as Obama Administration Escalates Attack on Medical Marijuana Patients and Caregivers in California, Colorado and other Medical Marijuana States
Drug Policy Alliance Commends DC Policymakers for Respecting Voters and Standing Up to Federal Government to Protect Patients, But Calls on Them to Allow Patients to Grow Their Own
Senators Adair (R), Ortiz y Pino (D), and Ryan (R), join Senator McSorley (D) to sponsor Senate Bill 240