Government Must Correct Medical Marijuana Misinformation, Petition Says

Press Conference Noon Monday with Doctors and Patients at the National Press Club

(Washington, D.C.) Wednesday, September 29 – When the government says there is no medical use for marijuana, it’s just plain wrong, according to a petition being filed Monday under the Data Quality Act, a little-known law that requires federal agencies to rely on sound science.

If the patient-advocacy group filing the claim prevails, the Department of Health and Human Services will have to change its tune on medical marijuana and publicly admit that the drug is now routinely used for medical treatment.

Americans for Safe Access, the national medical-marijuana advocacy group responsible for the petition, will hold a noon press conference at the National Press Club. Reporters will enjoy a light lunch and hear from leading physicians, research scientists, medical marijuana patients, and representatives from some of the dozens of professional health organizations that have endorsed changing federal rules to allow medical use of marijuana, including the American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association.

At issue is the government’s insistence that “marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” a conclusion Health and Human Services reached in 2001 after a Food and Drug Administration review. According to the petition, established research, federal reports and patient experience all show marijuana works for pain, nausea, loss of appetite, anxiety, and spasticity, the severe muscle spasms associated with Multiple Sclerosis, spinal injury and other conditions.

Admitting marijuana has medical use would clear the way to allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana to their patients. Currently, nine states have laws permitting patients to legally use it with a doctor’s recommendation, but those laws are at odds with the federal prohibition that ranks marijuana as more dangerous than cocaine or amphetamines.

A U.S. Court of Appeals ruling in favor of Dr. Marcus Conant, who will appear at the press conference, prevents the government from sanctioning doctors who make those recommendations. The Supreme Court will soon review another appellate decision that found certain California medical marijuana patients and their caregivers to be exempt from the federal prohibition.

WHAT: Press conference on correcting government statements on medical marijuana. Lunch provided.

WHO: Prominent physicians, medical marijuana patients, and advocates, including:
Marcus Conant, MD, leading HIV/AIDS clinician and researcher whose suit against the government established the right of physicians to recommend marijuana to their patients;
Denis Petro, MD, chief of neurology, Malcolm Grow Medical Center of Andrews Air Force Base, a leading researcher in treating Multiple Sclerosis with marijuana and its cannabinoid components;
Robert Melamede, PhD, chair of the biology department, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, where he researches and teaches on the role of cannabinoids in health and disease.

WHEN: Noon, Monday, October 4, 2004.

WHERE: National Press Club, Edwin R. Murrow Room, 13th Floor, 14th and F Sts. NW, Washington, D.C.


For interviews or more information, contact Steph Sherer at (510) 872-7822, or Hilary McQuie (510) 333-8554. A national coalition of 10,000 patients, doctors and advocates, Americans for Safe Access is the largest organization working solely on medical marijuana.