ASA Releases Federal Medical Cannabis Policy Roadmap

By Jason Barker for Weed News

An Americans for Safe Access (ASA) national report was released on December 8th, 2016 and calls for an end to contradictions between federal and state guidelines with regard to medical cannabis policies. The Americans for Safe Access briefing book, “Medical Cannabis in America”, showing that not only do opiate related deaths drop an average of 24.8% in states with medical cannabis laws, the report also notes that the Department of Justice has spent an estimated $592 million to date in arrests, investigations, enforcement raids, pretrial services, incarceration, and probation. It further shows how the Obama Administration has spent $350 million on federal interference compared to the Bush Administration that was estimated to be in excess of $232 million.

The report includes actions for the POTUS during the lame duck as well as the incoming Congress and POTUS. These actions would protect the more than 2 million medical cannabis patients in the U.S. by allowing local manufacturers, growers, and distributors to operate in accordance with their own state’s laws regarding medical cannabis without fear of federal interference.

“Medical cannabis is reshaping the way we view modern medicine,” Steph Sherer, ASA’s executive director said in a written statement. “But in order to continue providing millions of patients with the medicine they need, Congress and the Obama Administration need to take action.” Most importantly there are things that President Obama can do before he leaves office to ensure a smoother transition for medical cannabis policy under the new administration. This is perhaps one of the only political issues that has bipartisan support.

‘Medical Cannabis in America: The Medical Cannabis Briefing Book’ is a guidebook for Congress and the Administration that includes information on modern scientific evidence about medical cannabis, what the federal and state conflict means for patients who rely on this medicine, and what Congress can do to end this conflict.

The report outlines how federal agencies can help states to increase the quality and safety of medical cannabis programs, details a role for federal oversight after the passage of comprehensive legislation and outlines the following steps:
*Instruct Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to update their website and publications to reflect their most current science.
*Order Health and Human Services (HHS) and DEA to take the recommendation from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Acting Commissioner Stephen Ostroff to examine and possibly overhaul the regulations that are preventing medical research and rescheduling of cannabis.
*Engage with U.N. Secretary General on the scheduling of cannabis in the UN Single Convention of Drugs, which is based on a report from 1935.
*Release the remaining medical cannabis POWs and drop the handful of remaining prosecutions.

“Medical Cannabis in America: The Medical Cannabis Briefing Book” also dispels a number of popular myths about cannabis – amongst them that cannabis is a “gateway” drug, and documents how over 2 million Americans rely on state-run, physician supervised cannabis programs to alleviate symptoms of illnesses like cancer, crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, parkinson’s, seizure disorders, post traumatic stress, and chronic pain.

The report shows that:
*Opiate related deaths dropped an average of 24.8% in states with medical cannabis laws.
*89% of Americans support medical cannabis.
*The Department of Justice (DOJ) has spent an estimated $592 million to date in arrests, investigations, enforcement raids, pretrial services, incarceration, and probation.
*The total amount spent on federal interference under the Bush Administration two terms was estimated to be in excess of $232 million — The Obama Administration two terms has spent $350 million.
*In 2012 the DEA used 5% of their budget on medical cannabis cases.
*There are 44 states with medical cannabis laws.

“The next Congress must pass the CARERS Act or its successor bill to protect millions of patients from federal interference in states with medical cannabis programs,” said Mike Liszewski, Director of Government Affairs at Americans for Safe Access. “CARERS has the potential to greatly improve public health by harmonizing state and federal medical cannabis laws, but we need our elected officials to act swiftly. Millions of people depend on this botanical medicine and simply cannot afford to wait.”

There are 128,000 opiate related deaths annually as opposed to 0 deaths caused by cannabis.  The ASA recommendations include reflecting the most current science across DEA platforms and overhauling regulations that prevent medical marijuana research. In order to protect medical cannabis patients in the U.S. we must help manufacturers, growers, and distributors to operate without fear of federal interference.

It’s really important for all people within the cannabis community to know they are the power; the government, legislators & policy makers are lead to us and “We the people” have that power to change the laws and government – people in it, policy being written, and overturning rules & regulations that disrupt safe access to cannabis. Not one state’s medical cannabis program or legalization law is perfect, they are working pieces of democracy. Good policy is created when those who are most affected are at the table, please send copies of the “The Medical Cannabis Briefing Book” and  US Patent #6,630,507  ”Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants” to your elected officials, and local media today!