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. 

States with Pending Legislation to Legalize Medical Marijuana

ProCon.org

This helpful resource is frequently updated with medical marijuana legislation pending in the states. 

Federal Activist Toolkit

We can make a powerful impact by urging our members of Congress to end failed drug war policies. They care what their constituents have to say.
 

Tips for Talking to Congress

Legislators appreciate hearing from their constituents, and they are elected to represent our views. Always give your legislator your name, address, and telephone number so that they know you are one of their constituents. Be sure to include this information whether you visit in person, call, or write.

When you contact your legislators, a short sentence or two about why you personally support or oppose a certain proposal is fine. 

Most importantly, always be courteous and clear when communicating with your legislators. Remember, legislators are people, too!

Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research: Report to the California Legislature (2010)

February 11, 2010
Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, University of California

This report was submitted in response to the California legislature passing and Governor Gray Davis signing SB847, which commissioned the University of California to establish a scientific research program to expand the public scientific knowledge on purported therapeutic usages of marijuana.

How marijuana became legal

September 18, 2009
Roger Parloff

The acceptance of medical marijuana has implications that extend far beyond helping those suffering from life-threatening diseases. It is one of several factors -- including demographic changes, the financial crisis, and the widely perceived failure of the war on drugs -- reopening the country's 40-year-old on-again, off-again shouting match over whether marijuana should be legalized.

Medical Marijuana Victories

In 1996 DPA spearheaded passage of the nation’s first medical marijuana law. California’s Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, allows patients to use marijuana for medicinal purposes with a doctor’s recommendation. Despite the federal government’s efforts to stymie Prop. 215 by threatening and shutting down dispensaries, over a dozen other states have legalized medical marijuana since 1996, many of them due to DPA’s efforts.

DEA Ruling on Rescheduling Marijuana

September 6, 1988
Francis L. Young, Administrative Law Judge

The principle issue here is whether the marijuana plant should lawfully be transferred from Schedule I to Schedule II of the schedules established by the Controlled Substances Act. Ruling of Drug Enforcement Administration Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young, "In the Matter of Marijuana Rescheduling," finding that: "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care."

The Holder Memorandum: Memorandum for Selected United State Attorneys on Investigations and Prosecutions in States Authorizing the Medical Use of Marijuana

October 19, 2009
U.S. Department of Justice: Office of the Deputy Attorney General

This memorandum provides clarification and guidance to federal prosecutors in States that have enacted laws authorizing the medical use of marijuana. These laws vary in their substantive provisions and in the extent of state regulatory oversight, both among the enacting States and among local jurisdictions within those States. Rather than developing different guidelines for every possible variant of state and local law, this memorandum provides uniform guidance to focus federal investigations and prosecutions in these States on core federal enforcement priorities.

Emerging Theraputic Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids: A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature Fourth Edition

Armentano, Paul
NORML

For patients and their physicians, this report can serve as a primer for those who are considering using or recommending medical cannabis. For others, this report can serve as an introduction to the broad range of emerging clinical applications for cannabis and its various compounds.

Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base

April 7, 2003

Marijuana and Medicine addresses the science base and the therapeutic effects of marijuana use for medical conditions such as glaucoma and multiple sclerosis. It covers marijuana's mechanism of action, acute and chronic effects on health and behavior, potential adverse effects, efficacy of different delivery systems, analysis of the data about marijuana as a gateway drug, and the prospects for developing cannabinoid drugs. The book evaluates how well marijuana meets accepted standards for medicine and considers the conclusions of other blue-ribbon panels.

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