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 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.
DPA's Ethan Nadelmann Lauds this Development but Notes that Nothing Prevents those States from Implementing their own
Governors Christine Gregoire of Washington and Lincoln D. Chafee of Rhode Island petitioned the federal government today to reclassify marijuana as a drug with accepted medical uses.
US Attorneys in California Say They Will Shut Down Dispensaries, Prosecute Landlords and Seize Properties Notwithstanding State Law
Obama Administration's Medical Marijuana Policies Now Worse Than Bush and Clinton Policies
Despite the Obama Administration's promise to respect state law and leave medical marijuana patients alone, its attack on patients and providers operating legally under state law is rapidly escalating. At least 16 landlords in California this week received letters stating that they are violating federal drugs laws and that state law will not protect them. The four US Attorneys in California are holding a press conference in Sacramento today in which they are expected to announce a broad crackdown on medical marijuana.
Policy Impacts Roughly One Million Americans in 16 States (and the District of Columbia) that Allow Medical Marijuana
Statement from Ethan Nadelmann: ATF Discrimination Against Legal Medical Marijuana Patients Is Outrageous
Last month the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sent a letter to gun sellers saying it is illegal for medical marijuana patients to own firearms. The letter from Assistant Director Arthur Herbert states, "Any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is prohibited by Federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition."
Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, issued this statement:
Irvina Booker's Story
Irvina Booker was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1992. In addition to debilitating physical symptoms, Irvina was faced with the emotional challenges of losing her ability to walk. She often felt like a burden to her friends and family.
None of the medication Irvina’s doctors prescribed alleviated her severe muscle spasm pain. The medications also had harsh side effects including nausea, vomiting, vertigo, headaches, dizziness, numbness, and burning.
Advocates Applaud Governor's Decision and Say Other States Should Follow New Jersey's Example
Patients and Families Express Gratitude to the Governor and Hope that the Program will Soon Allow them Access to Medical Marijuana
New Guidelines Raise More Questions than They Answer
Drug Policy Alliance Statement: Obama Misses Opportunity to Clarify State/Federal Conflict over Medical Marijuana and Pave the Way for Responsible Regulation in 16 states and the District of Columbia
The following is a statement from Bill Piper, director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance.
Advocates Urge Governor Chris Christie to Move Forward with Implementation of New Jersey's Medical Marijuana Program
Patients and Families Hopeful that Sick and Dying People Will Soon Find Relief
Trenton—Advocates and medical marijuana patients and their families expressed optimism regarding the future of New Jersey's medical marijuana program in light of the recently released U.S. Department of Justice memorandum providing guidance on state medical marijuana programs. Deputy Attorney General James Cole's memo reiterates statements from the Obama administration's 2009 Ogden memo that the Department of Justice does not consider it an efficient use of federal resources to prosecute medical marijuana patients and caregivers.