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BERKELEY -- The following is a statement on the nomination of Michael Leavitt as New Health and Human Services Secretary by Steph Sherer, executive director, Americans for Safe Access:
"We urge the next secretary of HHS to bring the weight of overwhelming scientific evidence to reclassifying marijuana in the U.S, in recognition of its medical value. This reclassification will increase long overdue access to medical marijuana for seriously ill people here in the U.S., and will remove the barriers (and potentially serious legal consequences) associated with researching, prescribing and administering this substance by U.S. health professionals.
We have a petition for rescheduling marijuana in front of Health and Human Services right now, as well as a challenge under the Federal Data Quality Act for HHS to correct inaccurate assertions made in their 2001 denial of a prior rescheduling petition. This incorrect information has maintained the unnecessary and inappropriate restrictions, and severe legal penalties, that limit access to medical cannabis in the United States to treat serious medical conditions for which it has scientifically shown its value. Further, the continued classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, a classification supported by HHS’s flawed recommendations, restrains legitimate medical research in the U.S. on other potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis.
We call on Michael Leavitt to remember, if confirmed, that his actions regarding marijuana rescheduling will affect the hundreds of thousands of Americans who undergo chemotherapy, suffer from wasting syndrome, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, or other conditions for which marijuana has been proven to be a useful treatment. It is time that our health officials with the greatest authority take responsibility for this policy decision, rather than leaving it in the hands of ill-informed law enforcement agencies and elected officials."
A national coalition of 10,000 patients, doctors and advocates, Americans for Safe Access is the largest organization working solely on medical marijuana. To learn more, see www.SafeAccessNow.org.