Drug Law

Pro Legalization Group Hails Victory For Medical Marijuana

| by ASA

by Caren Woodson

I am blogging with good news from Washington, DC. Today, ASA helped to kill an amendment aimed at obstructing the effective implementation of duly enacted state medical cannabis laws!

Earlier this week, ASA’s National Office was notified that Sen. Coburn (R-OK) intended to add a medical marijuana amendment to S. 982, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Frustrated by the Obama Administration’s continued pledge to not interfere with state medical marijuana laws, Sen. Coburn (R-OK) attempted to slip in legislation designed to undermine these programs.

The text of Sen. Coburn’s amendment is as follows: MEDICAL MARIJUANA. The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall- (1) require that State-legalized medical marijuana shall be subject to the full regulatory requirements of the Food and Drug Administration, including a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy and all other requirements and penalties of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (21 USC 301 et seq.) regarding safe and effective reviews, approval, sale, marketing, and use of pharmaceuticals; and (2) require that any State-legalized marijuana likely to be offered to, or purchase by, consumers as marijuana intended to be consumed as a cigarette or through the oral cavity will be subject to section 900 of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (as amended by section 101).”

At present, the only way for medical marijuana to be properly evaluated by the FDA is for privately-funded sponsors to conduct FDA-approved clinical trials (like any other drug evaluation). If Senator Coburn’s intentions with regard to the medical efficacy of marijuana were genuine, he would consider first removing the monopoly imposed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on licenses for the cultivation of medical-grade cannabis for research purposes. Currently, the DEA exclusively licenses the cultivation of medical-grade cannabis to the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), which primarily investigates only the negative effects of cannabis. This monopoly obstructs any investigation and research in the U.S. into the medical properties of cannabis and thwarts the normal drug approval process.

This isn’t the first time Sen. Coburn has attempted to add this amendment to unrelated legislation. Recall, he made a similar attempt in 2007 when he tried to append the amendment to an unrelated FDA prescription drug bill. In fact, then-Senators Obama and Clinton voted against the measure. While Sen Coburn managed to slip it in at committee level, ASA managed to get it removed during conference committee.

Today, in a 10-13 party-line vote, we managed to kill the amendment in Committee! Senators Dodd (D-CT) and Reed (D-RI) were key opponents to the amendment.