ASA Congratulates President-Elect Obama on Historic Victory

November 05, 2008

Washington, D.C. -- Americans for Safe Access (ASA) congratulates Sen. Barack Obama on his election as our Nation's 44th President and looks forward to working with him and his Administration over the next four years to end federal raids on medical cannabis patients and providers and to support policy changes that ensure safe access for individuals who use cannabis to control symptoms of HIV/AIDS, cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, and other serious or chronic diseases.

Moreover, we couldn’t be more pleased to welcome the addition of Michigan as the newest -- 13th -- state to permit individuals living with a serious or chronic illness to use and obtain cannabis from authorized caregivers as recommended by a licensed physician without legal sanction.

"We are reflecting on the many milestones that last night's vote represents and celebrating a presumptive change in our national direction," said Steph Sherer, ASA's founder and Executive Director. "The past two years have been particularly difficult for individuals authorized to use or provide medical cannabis in accordance with their state laws, but, this election and the overwhelming support for a compassionate use law in Michigan has renewed our commitment to fight harder than ever to end federal raids."

Despite strong evidence that supports the therapeutic use of cannabis, federal law strictly prohibits its use, even for medical purposes. In contrast, thirteen states have passed laws that permit individuals living with a serious or chronic illness to use and obtain cannabis from authorized caregivers as recommended by a licensed physician without legal sanction. However, these state laws differ from the federal law and leave patients and their providers vulnerable to federal raids, arrest, and prosecution.

"Executive leadership requires a focus on harmonizing the conflict between federal and state law and support for a comprehensive plan to ensure safe access for individuals who use cannabis to control symptoms serious or chronic diseases," said David Ostrow, Director, ASA Scientific Advisory Board. "The science and policy regarding the medical use of cannabis should not be obscured or hindered by the debate surrounding the legalization of marijuana for general use. Scientific consensus coupled with leadership in the various states has provided a solid foundation from which to create a comprehensive plan to support long-term solutions for safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research."

On multiple occasions throughout the campaign, Sen. Obama commented that using scarce law enforcement resources to conduct enforcement raids on patients who pose no threat "makes no sense" and he has pledged that these tactics will not continue during his Administration.

"Medical cannabis patients are ready for change, too" said Caren Woodson, ASA's Director of Government Affairs. "Sen. Obama has promised to end the Bush Administration policies of intimidation and interference. ASA looks forward to working with President-elect Obama, his Administration and the new Congress to make certain that his pledges are fulfilled."

To assist the Obama transition team, ASA has assembled a number of recommendations for specific, immediate and necessary changes to federal policy to meet the needs of individuals who use cannabis for therapeutic purposes, their health care providers and medical researchers. Predominantly a call for compassionate leadership, these recommendations include ending federal raids and interference with state laws, eliminating the federal government's monopoly on the supply of cannabis available for research, and support for policies that establish federal legal protections for medical cannabis patients and their providers.

On behalf of our Members and supporters, Americans for Safe Access extends our sincere congratulations to our new president and we offer our best wishes for a successful transition. We stand ready to work President-elect Obama and his Administration to support long-term solutions for safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and programs that advance medical and scientific research.

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