Advocates Brief Congress on Reclassifying Marijuana for Medical Use, Urge Action Monday Hill briefing and citizen lobby day come as AG Holder says Administration ready to work on rescheduling

April 07, 2014 | Kris Hermes

Washington, D.C. -- More than 200 medical marijuana advocates, including patients, doctors, scientists, lawyers, and policymakers, will lobby their Members of Congress today in an effort to pass legislation that would reclassify marijuana for medical use. Medical marijuana advocates from across the country traveled to Washington, D.C. this past weekend to participate in the second annual Unity Conference and Lobby Day hosted by the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which is also hosting a briefing for Congressional staff today at Noon.

What: Media is encouraged to attend a briefing for Congressional staff on why medical marijuana must be reclassified
When: Monday, April 7, 2014 at Noon
Where: U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, Room HVC 200, First Street SE, Washington, D.C.

"We're here in Washington, D.C. to educate Congress on how successfully medical marijuana is being implemented at the state level, and to urge our representatives to adopt a policy that resolves the conflict between federal and state laws," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "Instead of pointing fingers at who should take the first step, we need to work together to usher in a more sensible and compassionate policy on marijuana."

Today's lobbying effort centers around HR 689, the States' Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, which would reclassify marijuana to either Schedule III, IV or V, thereby recognizing its medical value. The Act would also prevent interference by the federal government in any local or state-run medical marijuana program and provide protection under federal law for state-qualified patients and caregivers. Today, the Justice Department continues to vigorously prosecute medical marijuana cases despite no evidence of state law violations.

Today's lobbying effort comes just days after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder testified before a House Appropriations Committee hearing that the Obama Administration "would be glad to work with Congress" on rescheduling marijuana for medical use. The federal government currently classifies marijuana (cannabis) as more dangerous than cocaine and methamphetamine, and having no medical use. Despite this federal policy, twenty states and the District of Columbia have adopted medical marijuana laws.

Over the past few months, both the Obama Administration and Congress have called on each other to reclassify marijuana but neither has taken meaningful action so far. Under the Controlled Substances Act, scheduled drugs can be reclassified by both branches of government. In February, eighteen Members of Congress wrote to President Obama, urging him to reschedule cannabis, two weeks after the president appeared on CNN, claiming that only Congress can reclassify the plant. In fact, the Obama Administration has several methods by which it could remove cannabis from its Schedule I status, including under the authority of U.S. Attorney General Holder.

Unity Conference participants, most of whom will lobby Members of Congress today, were educated this past weekend on a variety of cannabis-related issues, including the history of botanical medicines in the U.S., the future of regulation and product safety, an assessment of the different state medical marijuana laws and how they're working for patients, and the myths and facts of CBD (cannabidiol), one of the plant's primary chemical compounds that works well for patients with intractable seizure disorders.

Further information:
Congressional staff briefing one-pager
HR 689 one-pager

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