Movement on Medical Cannabis at the Federal level? Let’s Keep the Momentum Going!

Movement on Medical Cannabis at the Federal level? Let’s Keep the Momentum Going!

On December 2, 2022, President Biden signed the Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Act  into law. As patient advocates, we appreciate the steps taken by Congress in passing this bill. It is our hope that this is Congress’ way of getting the ball rolling.

Congress is setting their agenda for next year and without hearing from their constituents, will likely think that passing the research bill will take the need for any further action regarding medical cannabis off their plate. 

Today,  38 states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories allow the medical use of cannabis under state law. However, cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, which continues to have a harmful impact on people and patients nationwide. 

For 25 years, the U.S. has experimented with a state-by-state medical cannabis model to serve patients. These laws happened in the vacuum of federal policymakers willing to acknowledge the fact that cannabis is medicine. This state-by-state system operated much like a triage in a hospital or emergency room, by giving state access to patients who need cannabis most. 

This triage system has given some patients around the country limited access to cannabis and limited state-level legal protections. However, like any other triage program, these are only half measures to ensure that those most vulnerable receive some help before being addressed by a physician and given a full treatment protocol. This is where we are at now with medical cannabis. 

Without the federal government formally recognizing cannabis as medicine, patients will never have all they deserve. Federal inaction has prevented patients from traveling with their medicine, working for the federal government, accessing important federal programs, and most importantly, having safe and legal access to medical cannabis that is treated the same way under law as any other medical treatment decision. 

Congress can change this and show their support for patients by passing comprehensive medical cannabis legislation to support cannabis patients. Americans for Safe Access is urging Congress to take advantage of the momentum behind the passage of the research bill and finally move to recognize medical cannabis as legal on the federal level. By creating an Office of Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoid Control, we can end the piecemeal bureaucratic approach to cannabis policy, more responsibly harness federal funds, and appropriately oversee and coordinate cannabis policy across the United States to ensure that all patients are treated equally, regardless of which state they live in. 

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