Medical Marijuana Policy Roadmap Released by Americans for Safe Access

By Steve Elliott for Toke Signals

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Thursday released a briefing book —“Medical Cannabis in America”— calling on Congress and the Obama Administration to end the conflict between federal and state governments on medical marijuana programs. The report includes potential actions for President Obama to take during the lame duck session along with steps for the incoming Congress and President-elect Donald Trump.

ASA argues these suggestions would protect the more than 2 million medical marijuana 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,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, “but in order to continue providing millions of patients with the medicine they need, Congress and the Obama Administration need to take action.

“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,” Sherer said. “This is perhaps one of the only political issues that has bipartisan support.”

Medical Cannabis in America: The Medical Cannabis Briefing Book is a guide for Congress, the Obama Administration, and President-elect Trump that provides modern scientific evidence on medical marijuana, 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 increase the quality and safety of medical marijuana programs. It also details a role for federal oversight after the passage of comprehensive legislation, and outlines steps the current POTUS can take before leaving the white house including:

  • 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.

“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.”

Medical Cannabis in America: The Medical Cannabis Briefing Book also dispels a number of popular myths about marijuana, amongst them that cannabis is a “gateway” drug. It also documents how more than 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:

  • Opiate related deaths dropped an average of 24.8 percent in states with medical marijuana laws.
  • 89 percent of Americans support medical cannabis.
  • The 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 was estimated to be in excess of $232 million — The Obama Administration has spent $350 million.
  • In 2012 the DEA used 5% of their budget on medical cannabis cases.
  • Facts on 44 states with medical cannabis laws.