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Medical Marijuana

Challenging the DEA's War on Medical Marijuana

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Wed, July, 13th 2011 by THCFinder
The federal agency insists it has no legitimate use. So are all the cancer, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis patients lying?
 
Can I interest you in a cross-country trip? Its theme is Anti-Empiricism in America. The tour bus leaves from The Bay Area, where a lot of people still think rent control works. It proceeds through Salt Lake City, where the Evergreen Institute claims to cure same sex attraction, passes through Petersburg, Ky., home of the Creationist Museum, and terminates in Springfield, Va., where the DEA, a liberty impinging branch of the federal government, insists against overwhelming evidence that a plant called marijuana "has no accepted medical use in the United States, and lacks an acceptable level of safety for use even under medical supervision." 
 
That dubious determination is what keeps marijuana classified as a Schedule 1 drug, the only kind that cannot be prescribed by physicians. It is more tightly controlled than raw opium, methadone, and anabolic steroids, among many other drugs far more harmful to the human body, and more prone to abuse than cannabis. 
 
Is that something the DEA can defend in court?
 
Americans For Safe Access (ASA) intends to find out. The advocacy group has spent years petitioning to change marijuana's designation so that doctors can prescribe it to patients. Last month, the DEA officially denied their request. In response, the group intends to sue. "The federal government is making no bones about its aggressive policy to undermine medical marijuana," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "And we're prepared to take the Obama administration to court over it."
 
Though most people don't know it, there is precedent for suing the federal government for access to medical marijuana and winning. On the verge of going blind in his early twenties, the late Robert C. Randall turned to marijuana after discovering that it relieved the symptoms of his glaucoma. It worked. In order to maintain a supply, he grew marijuana on his Washington D.C. sun deck. Police arrested him. "I argued that any sane person who knew they were going blind, who knew that marijuana would prevent them from going blind, would break the law to obtain marijuana," he recalled. Surprisingly, the courts agreed, and soon afterward, he began receiving marijuana legally from the federal government, a fact he publicized, resulting in the termination of his supply.
 
"They were willing to let me go blind to maintain the fiction that marijuana has no medical use," he said in the video above. He sued. Rather than go to court again, the federal government reached a settlement that required it to establish the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program. At its peak, 30 people were getting their marijuana legally from the federal government, the entity now claiming that the drug "has no accepted medical use in the United States, and lacks an acceptable level of safety for use even under medical supervision." George H.W. Bush ended the program, but as many as 5 patients are currently grandfathered in and still receiving marijuana. 
 

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Marijuana: DEA proposal, new Colorado law could lead to Big Pharma boom, attorney says

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Tue, July, 12th 2011 by THCFinder
Last month, we told you about a loophole in HB 1043, the medical marijuana cleanup bill, that could let Big Pharma firms get involved in the Colorado MMJ industry. Now, the Drug Enforcement Administration has made a new proposal involving marijuana extracts, and attorney Warren Edson sees it as further fueling a possible boom in the manufacture of such products here.
 
HB 1043 states that "a medical marijuana center may provide a sample of its products to a laboratory that has an occupational license from the state licensing authority for testing and research purposes. The laboratory may develop, test, and produce medical marijuana-based products." Because these labs only need an occupational license, not a license specific to the medical marijuana industry, Edson believes the restrictions placed on dispensaries -- including the rule disallowing out-of-state ownership -- wouldn't apply.
 
‚ÄčThe latest development? The DEA has proposed establishing a new code number for what it refers to as "Marihuana Extract." This code would be different from the one pertaining to marijuana itself, allowing the agency to track extract separately.
On the surface, this change seems merely technical. But Edson believes it has greater significance. According to him, "it sure looks like this would create a little niche, a little nook that would allow a pharmaceutical company to make products with marijuana extract in addition to what they usually do, without jeopardizing their big money drugs. And because of that little addition to 1043, the only place in the country where they could do that is right here."
 
At first blush, opening such a window to the medical industry seems hypocritical. After all, as Edson notes, "you've got the federal government simultaneously issuing this new proposal and, out of the other side of its mouth, saying marijuana has no medicinal value" by registering it as a Schedule 1 narcotic. But such contradictions aren't unknown in the medical biz. "The coca plant supposedly has no medical value, either," he points out, "but its extract gives us pharmaceutical cocaine, which helps people with narcolepsy. So the extract does have medical value."
 

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Judges snuffing out probationers medical marijuana

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Mon, July, 11th 2011 by THCFinder
ADRIAN, Mich. —
Medical marijuana users who run afoul of the law are discovering probation is an antidote to their
certification cards.
 
An Adrian man was warned against applying for a medical marijuana card when he was placed on probation Thursday for a cocaine offense. Growing and using marijuana is still against federal law, said Lenawee County Circuit Judge Timothy P. Pickard. And the state medical use program does not seem to be restricting certification to the seriously ill.
 
“I don’t buy it,” Pickard said during the sentencing. “It seems to be an excuse for everybody to light up and smoke dope.”
 
Pickard, Lenawee County’s chief judge, said Friday the courts have no policy ruling out all use of medical marijuana for people on probation. But he has to be convinced there is a legitimate need, he said.
 
Regulations written by the state after a medical marijuana ballot proposal was passed by voters in 2008 do not require a prescription. Citizens can apply for certification cards with only a signed statement from a physician saying it may benefit their medical condition.
 
Probation terms can restrict otherwise legal behavior, Pickard said, such as drinking alcohol or associating with people having felony records. And it would be difficult to excuse violating federal law by growing and using marijuana while on probation.  
 
Pickard said he will still consider approving medical marijuana use for probationers whose convictions are not drug-related and who can show evidence of a serious medical condition that can be treated with marijuana.
 
If those conditions are met, “I’m fine with it,” Pickard said. “That doesn’t seem to be the case. I haven’t seen that yet.”
 

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Agency Lights Up Legal Battle By Declaring Pot Lacks Accepted Medical Use

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Mon, July, 11th 2011 by THCFinder
Despite the legalization of medical marijuana in 16 states and the District of Columbia, the federal government has ruled that cannabis has no accepted medical use and should remain classified, like heroin, as a highly dangerous drug.
 
As the Los Angeles Times reports, the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration issued its decision almost nine years after medical marijuana advocates asked the government to reclassify cannabis based on a growing body of research demonstrating its effectiveness in treating diseases such as glaucoma and multiple sclerosis.
 
Supporters of medical marijuana recently asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to force the administration to respond to their petition. While critical of the DEA’s new ruling, they were delighted that they now have a decision they can appeal to the federal courts.
 
“We have foiled the government’s strategy of delay, and we can now go head-to-head on the merits,” said Joe Elford, the chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access and the lead attorney on the lawsuit.
 
However, similar legal efforts to permit the medical use of marijuana have failed twice before, after the federal government turned down petitions to reclassify the drug in 1972 and again in 1995.
 
Elford said he was not surprised by the DEA decision, which comes after the Obama administration announced it would not tolerate large-scale commercial marijuana cultivation. “It is clearly motivated by a political decision that is anti-marijuana,” he said. 
 
In a June 21 letter to the organizations that filed the latest petition, DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said she rejected the request because marijuana has “a high potential for abuse” and lacks any “currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” She added that  marijuana’s chemistry is not known and adequate studies have not been done on its usefulness or safety.
 
“At this time,” she said, “the known risks of marijuana use have not been outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy.”
 
Nevertheless, researchers continue to identify medical benefits well beyond the drug’s often-cited capacity to stimulate the appetite of patients on chemotherapy.
 

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Obama's medical marijuana 'reversal': A 'blatant contradiction'?

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Mon, July, 11th 2011 by THCFinder
The Justice Department has threatened to crack down on medical marijuana businesses, even those allowed under state laws — and advocates aren't pleased
 
Medical marijuana advocates were thrilled in 2009 when President Obama's Justice Department advised federal attorneys to avoid prosecuting patients who use medical marijuana in accordance with state laws, or their caregivers. Now, the thrill is gone. Deputy Attorney General James Cole has issued a new memorandum offering "guidance" on the earlier policy: All marijuana use and commerce is illegal under the Controlled Substance Act, Cole reiterated, and the new crop of state-sanctioned, large-scale marijuana warehouses and dispensaries are in federal crosshairs. Is this a flip-flop on pot?
 
Obama broke his word: There's obviously a "blatant contradiction" here, but Obama's trying to have it both ways, says Jacob Sullum in Texas' Odessa American. As late as last summer, his administration told Congress that state-approved pot purveyors could rest easy, as Obama had promised during his presidential run. This new "unacknowledged reversal" is a ploy to "get credit for tolerance" and for being tough on drugs.
"The week of lying dangerously"
 

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U.S. decrees that marijuana has no accepted medical use

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Fri, July, 8th 2011 by THCFinder
Marijuana has been approved by California, many other states and the nation's capital to treat a range of illnesses, but in a decision announced Friday the federal government ruled that it has no accepted medical use and should remain classified as a highly dangerous drug like heroin.
 
The decision comes almost nine years after medical marijuana supporters asked the government to reclassify cannabis to take into account a growing body of worldwide research that shows its effectiveness in treating certain diseases, such as glaucoma and multiple sclerosis.
 
Advocates for the medical use of the drug criticized the ruling but were elated that the Obama administration has finally acted, which allows them to appeal to the federal courts. The decision to deny the request was made by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and comes less than two months after advocates asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to force the administration to respond to their petition.
 
"We have foiled the government's strategy of delay, and we can now go head-to-head on the merits," said Joe Elford, the chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access and the lead attorney on the lawsuit.
 
Elford said he was not surprised by the decision, which comes after the Obama administration announced it would not tolerate large-scale commercial marijuana cultivation. "It is clearly motivated by a political decision that is anti-marijuana," he said. He noted that studies demonstrate pot has beneficial effects, including appetite stimulation for people undergoing chemotherapy. "One of the things people say about marijuana is that it gives you the munchies and the truth is that it does, and for some people that's a very positive thing."
 
In a June 21 letter to the organizations that filed the petition, DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said she rejected the request because marijuana "has a high potential for abuse," "has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States" and "lacks accepted safety for use under medical supervision." The letter and 37 pages of supporting documents were published Friday in the Federal Register.
 
This is the third time that petitions to reclassify marijuana have been spurned. The first was filed in 1972 and denied 17 years later. The second was filed in 1995 and denied six years later. Both decisions were appealed, but the courts sided with the federal government.
 

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