Drug Law

Feb. 17, 2010: a Groundbreaking Day for Medical Marijuana

| by ASA

It was a groundbreaking day for medical marijuana. Proclamations on marijuana’s therapeutic benefits came from two medical organizations, one in California and the other in Iowa. The University of California’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) presented a report today to the state legislature regarding the first clinical trials on smoked cannabis (marijuana) in the United States in more than 20 years. CMCR found that:

“reasonable evidence [exists] that cannabis is a promising treatment in selected pain syndromes caused by injury or diseases of the nervous system, and possibly for painful muscle spasticity due to multiple sclerosis.”

Given that some of the studies have already appeared in peer-reviewed medical journals, such as Neurology, the report was not really news to many who are fighting to get federal recognition of medical marijuana. In fact, the CMCR data can simply be added to the already-existing scores of studies conducted around the world that clearly show marijuana’s medical efficacy. In addition to observing the obvious, we should be asking why the federal government continues to resist further medical marijuana research. Why is CMCR the only entity conducting such research and why has it taken 20 years to come this far? Learn more about the government’s obstruction to medical marijuana research here. It’s long past time to break the federal logjam on research and to invest in the promise of medical marijuana.

In other news, the Iowa Board of Pharmacy (IBP), by its actions today has undoubtedly brought us closer to the goal of expanded research and the reclassification of marijuana. In a unanimous vote, the IBP recommended that the state move marijuana from a dangerous drug with no medical use (Schedule I) to one with medical benefits (Schedule II). The IBP also called for the formation of a task force, made up of patients, medical professionals, and law enforcement officers, to develop a medical marijuana law for Iowa.

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The IBP vote was not an accident, but a planned and well-executed campaign by advocates that included alawsuit forcing the Board to address the issue. According to the Des Moines Register, “The board last fall held a series of hearings around the state, at which most speakers spoke in favor of medical marijuana.” That support was put into concrete terms this week with a Register poll that found, “64 percent of Iowans support allowing patients to use marijuana if their doctors approve.” It looks like Iowa is well on its way to adopting one of the next medical marijuana laws.

California and Iowa, both trendsetters in their own right, have set the stage and provided us all with a sensible direction on medical marijuana: conduct more research and use the research that already exists to reclassify marijuana as a medicine.