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Medical Marijuana

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director November 29, 2017

    Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) addresses NORML members in September, 2017

    Today, sixty-six members of Congress representing both Republicans and Democrats sent a letter to Speaker Ryan, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, Leader Pelosi, and Leader Schumer urging them to maintain the federal protections for the 46 states that have implemented some form of medical cannabis programs throughout the country.

    This comes on the same day the Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a press conference to discuss America’s opioid epidemic and made disparaging comments about marijuana.

    “We’re working on that very hard right now,” Sessions said on Wednesday. “We had meetings yesterday and talked about it at some length. It’s my view that the use of marijuana is detrimental and we should not give encouragement in any way to it. And it represents a federal violation which is in the law and is subject to being enforced, and our priorities will have to be focused on all the things and challenges that we face.”

    From Rep. Rohrabacher’s press release:

    Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48) and Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) spearheaded a letter, signed by 64 other members of the House of Representatives, urging House and Senate leadership to ensure the inclusion of medical marijuana protections in any appropriations bill that funds the government beyond December 8, 2017. The provision, previously known as “Rohrabacher-Farr,” and now “Rohrabacher-Blumenauer,” bars the Department of Justice from using appropriated funds to prosecute individuals who are acting in compliance with their state’s medical marijuana laws. The provision was first signed into law in December 2014 as part of a larger spending package, and has been in force ever since.

    Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) speaking a NORML Conference

    Reps Rohrabacher and Blumenauer are both co-chairs of the bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

    In September, President Donald Trump reached an agreement with Congressional leadership to enact a three-month continuing resolution that maintains present federal spending levels and priorities through December 8, 2017, which included the amendment that was passed in the previous session of Congress.

    Congressional leadership must reauthorize this language as part of the forthcoming budget in order for the provisions to stay in effect. In July, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) offered identical language before the Senate Appropriations Committee, which approved it. However, House Rules Committee Chair Peter Sessions (R-TX) has refused to allow House members to vote on similar language. The provision will now be considered by House and Senate leadership when the two chambers’ appropriations bills are reconciled.

    It is imperative that the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment remain the law of the land and AG Sessions not be given the green-light to enact a crackdown. Click here to send a message to your federal lawmakers and urge them to speak out about the need to protect the 2 million registered medical marijuana patients throughout the country.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director November 2, 2017

    IMG_2898 copyIn a new poll of US service veterans conducted by The American Legion and presented today on Capitol Hill, one in five veterans self-reported using marijuana to alleviate a medical or physical condition.

    Flanked by lawmakers including Reps Tim Walz, Mark Takano, Julia Brownley, and Matt Gaetz, veterans presented their own personal stories of the efficacy of marijuana as a therapeutic treatment for a litany of conditions.

    Other notable data points revealed by the survey:

    •  81% of veterans support federally-legal treatment
    • 60% of respondents do not live in states where medical cannabis is legal
    • 40% of respondents live in states where medical cannabis is legal
    • And the partisan divide is nearly non-existent:
      • 88% of self-identified conservative respondents support federally legalized medical
        cannabis
      • 90% of self-identified liberal respondents support federally legalized medical
        cannabis
      • 70% of self-identified non-partisan respondents support federally legalized medical
        cannabis

    My favorite data point from their poll: 100% of respondents aged 18-30 support federally legalized medical cannabis.

    You can support the same legislation that the American Legion supports, the Veterans Equal Access Act, which would allow those who have served our country to discuss and be recommended medical marijuana in the states that have implemented programs by CLICKING HERE. 

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 1, 2017

    GovChristieDespite the growing body of scientific evidence showing that cannabis access is associated with reductions in opioid use and mortality, the Chairman of the White House’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis today called upon the President to reject any efforts to acknowledge marijuana’s promising role in mitigating opioid abuse and dependency.

    In a letter sent today to President Donald Trump by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Chairman of the Committee, he writes:

    “The Commission acknowledges that there is an active movement to promote the use of
    marijuana as an alternative medication for chronic pain and as a treatment for opioid addiction. … There is a lack of sophisticated outcome data on dose, potency, and abuse potential for marijuana. This mirrors the lack of data in the 1990’s and early 2000’s when opioid prescribing multiplied across health care settings and led to the current
    epidemic of abuse, misuse and addiction. The Commission urges that the same mistake is not made with the uninformed rush to put another drug legally on the market in the midst of an overdose epidemic.”

    President Trump established the Commission in May via an executive order. Members of the Commission issued their policy recommendations today.

    In recent months, dozens of peer-reviewed studies have concluded that legal cannabis access is associated with reduced rates of opioid use, spending, abuse, hospitalization, and mortality. Summaries and links to these studies are available here.

    Despite over 10,000 advocates communicating this information to the Commission, members of the committee have chosen to disregard it. Moreover, Gov. Christie opines in today’s letter that cannabis exposure increases the likelihood that one will become opioid dependent — an allegation that was recently rejected by the National Academy of Sciences, which, in a January 2017 review of some 10,000 peer-reviewed studies, failed to identify even one “good or fair-quality systematic review that reported on the association between cannabis use and the initiation of use of opioids.”

    NORML thanks the thousands of you who took the time to try to inform and educate this Commission and regrets that its members continue to place political ideology above the health and safety of American lives.

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director October 24, 2017

    Protections for the medical marijuana markets that are now legal in 30 states are set to expire on December 8th.

    After that, over 2 million registered patients’ continued access to their medication will rely on the prohibitionist whims of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been lobbying aggressively for the ability to use the full force of the Justice Department to interfere with their operations.

    But your member of Congress could make the difference. We’re targeting key elected officials who we need to publicly support these continued protections and need your Representatives to speak up and encourage them to stand with patients.

    Send a message to your Representative NOW

    Here is the full backstory: The House Rules Committee, led by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), blocked multiple marijuana-related amendments from receiving consideration by the full House earlier this year, including the one known as Rohrabacher-Blumenauer. Specifically, this language maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

    However, in July, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) successfully offered and passed similar language in the Senate Appropriations Committee. This means that the amendment will be considered in a bicameral conference committee despite the fact that the House was denied the opportunity to express its support.

    If the Republican Congress decides to strip the amendment out of the Senate budget, over 2 million patients in 30 states will lose these protections and could face the full attention of Jeff Sessions.

    We need your Representative to speak up. Send a message right now.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 20, 2017

    Medical marijuanaAdults with a history of cannabis use are less likely to suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) than are those who have not used the substance, according to data published online in the journal PLoS One. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most prevalent form of liver disease, affecting an estimated 80 to 100 million people in the United States.

    An international team of researchers from Stanford University in California and the Seoul National University College of Medicine in South Korea evaluated the association between marijuana and NAFLD in a nationally representative sample of over 22,000 adults. Researchers reported that cannabis use independently predicted a lower risk of suspected NAFLD in a dose-dependent manner.

    “Active marijuana use provided a protective effect against NAFLD independent of known metabolic risk factors,” authors determined. “[W]e conclude that current marijuana use may favorably impact the pathogenesis of NAFLD in US adults.”

    The findings are similar to those of a prior study published in the same journal in May. In that study, authors reported that frequent consumers of cannabis were 52 percent less likely to be diagnosed with NAFLD as compared to non-users, while occasional consumers were 15 percent less likely to suffer from the disease.

    Separate data published online earlier this month in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis also concluded that daily cannabis use is independently associated with a reduced prevalence of fatty liver disease in patients co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C.

    Full text of the study, “Inverse association of marijuana use with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease among adults in the United States,” appears online here.

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