In the last few months, officials in New Jersey, as well as several other states, have said that mixed signals from the Obama administration have left them unsure whether their medical marijuana programs could draw federal prosecution of the people involved, including state employees.
President Obama came into office promising to reverse George W. Bush administration practices and elevate science over politics. He explicitly applied that principle to drug policy, an area long driven by ideology and prejudice. He promoted three evidence-based drug policies: eliminating the ban on states using federal funding for syringe exchange programs to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis; reforming the racially unjust crack-cocaine sentencing disparity that punished crack offenses more harshly than powder offenses; and vowing to end years of federal interference in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. But as a recent L.A. Times article makes dismayingly clear, the White House is putting the "science-free zone" sign back up.
A committee of the Seattle City Council grappled Wednesday with a proposed ordinance for medical-marijuana cooperatives. It would be much easier for Seattle to ban them, as some suburban cities have done — and it would be wrong. Ultimately, marijuana prohibition has to end. The next step is to defend the providers of medical patients. Seattle's job will be to set up a system of regulation that is so clearly reasonable, and supported by people here, that prosecution of licensed suppliers will be a risk the federal government chooses not to take.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) ruled that marijuana has "no accepted medical use" and should therefore remain illegal under federal law — regardless of conflicting state legislation allowing medical marijuana and despite hundreds of studies and centuries of medical practice attesting to the drug's benefits. Not only does this decision conflict with state laws, however, it also conflicts with a 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the branch of the National Academy of Sciences charged with answering complex medical questions for Congress.
Marijuana has been approved by California, many other states and the nation's capital to treat a range of illnesses, but in a decision the federal government ruled that it has no accepted medical use and should remain classified as a highly dangerous drug like heroin. The decision by the DEA 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.
Colorado's medical-marijuana industry took a battering from all sides, as new laws restricting the businesses took effect and the Obama administration made its most explicit threat yet that dispensary raids are still possible. Perhaps the most pressing challenge to Colorado's medical-marijuana businesses came in a U.S. Department of Justice memo. In this week's memo, Deputy Attorney General James Cole wrote that people "who are in the business of cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana and those who knowingly facilitate such activities" are in violation of federal law, regardless of their state laws.
Gov. Jack Markell has signed legislation making Delaware the 16th state to allow the use of medical marijuana. The new law allows people 18 and older with certain serious or debilitating conditions that could be alleviated by marijuana to possess up to six ounces of the drug. Qualifying patients would be referred to state-licensed and regulated “compassion centers,” which would be located in each of Delaware’s three counties. The centers would grow, cultivate and dispense the marijuana.
Several states have started reassessing their medical marijuana laws after stern warnings from the federal government that everyone from licensed growers to regulators could be subjected to prosecution.The ominous-sounding letters from U.S. attorneys in recent weeks have directly injected the federal government back into a debate that has for years been progressing at the state level.
Threatened medical-marijuana crackdowns by federal prosecutors in other states have stoked fears about whether state employees, dispensary owners and others could be punished for operating under Arizona's fledgling law. Although the Justice Department said in 2009 that it would not prosecute sick people using medical marijuana, U.S. attorneys in California and Washington state have told officials there that they do intend to enforce federal laws that prohibit manufacture and distribution of the drug.
The Ontario Superior Court in Canada declared the rules that govern medical marijuana access and the prohibitions laid out in sections 4 and 7 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act “constitutionally invalid and of no force and effect,” effectively paving the way for legalization. If the government does not respond within 90 days with a successful delay or re-regulation of marijuana, the drug will be legal to possess and produce in Ontario, where the decision is binding.
The medical marijuana market in the U.S. generates $1.7 billion a year but a new report suggests that number could multiple as more U.S. states legalize it for treating a variety of illnesses. The study says that of the nearly 25 million Americans who are potentially eligible to use medical marijuana based on their diagnoses, fewer than 800,000 currently do.
By a narrow margin, Arizona voters have given their OK to legalized medical marijuana for people with chronic or debilitating diseases. The decision makes Arizona the 15th state to approve a medical marijuana law. California was the first in 1996, and 13 other states and Washington, D.C., have followed suit.
In 2001, Canada became the first country to adopt a formal system to regulate the medicinal use of marijuana — the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations. The policy allowed people suffering from terminal illnesses or severe conditions such as epilepsy, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and cancer to use the drug if it eased their symptoms. Some people would be able to grow marijuana themselves under strict guidelines.
The largest study of its kind has unexpectedly concluded that smoking marijuana, even regularly and heavily, does not lead to lung cancer. The new findings "were against our expectations," said Donald Tashkin of the University of California at Los Angeles, a pulmonologist who has studied marijuana for 30 years. Marijuana also contains the chemical THC, which he said may kill aging cells and keep them from becoming cancerous.
Eliseu Labigalini Jr, Lucio Ribeiro Rodrigues, Dartiu Xavier Da Silveira
01 October 1999
This study ensued from clinical observations based on spontaneous accounts by crack abusers undergoing their first psychiatric assessment, where they reported using cannabis in an attempt to ease their own withdrawal symptoms.
Janet E. Joy, Stanley J. Watson, Jun Borras, Sebastian Scholl , John A. Benson, Wendy Wolford
01 January 1999
The medical use of marijuana is surrounded by a cloud of social, political, and religious controversy, which obscures the facts that should be considered in the debate. This book summarizes what we know about marijuana from evidence-based medicine--the harm it may do and the relief it may bring to patients. The book helps the reader understand not only what science has to say about medical marijuana but also the logic behind the scientific conclusions.