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WA, RI Governors Petition Feds To Reclassify Marijuana For Medical Use


Gregoire chafee marijuanaGovernors Christine Gregoire (D-WA) and Lincoln Chafee (I-RI) announced at a press conference today that they were jointly filing a federal petition to reclassify marijuana for medical use. Under the Controlled Substances Act, the federal government considers marijuana a Schedule I substance, a dangerous drug with no medical value. The rescheduling petition filed by Governors Gregoire and Chafee comes after their administrations were sent letters threatening medical marijuana producers and distributors and the implementation of state laws. In April, Governor Gregoire vetoed sections of a bill that would have permitted dispensaries in Washington because of federal threats, and in September, Governor Chafee suspended implementation of Rhode Island’s dispensary licensing law.

At today’s press conference, Governor Gregoire said, “Many medical marijuana patients are too sick to grow their own,” but also said that “there is still not clear and safe access.” Gregoire also stressed that patients “often feel like law-breakers.” In the rescheduling petition, the governors cite as many as 700 peer-reviewed research studies and reports on medical marijuana, and according to Gregoire asked for public hearings “so that the government can hear from doctors and scientists.”

“It is time to show compassion and common sense,” said Gregoire. “The people getting hurt in all of this are patients,” continued Gregoire. “They have a prescription from a doctor but they can’t get it filled.” Governor Chafee called today’s filing a “bi-coastal, bipartisan effort.” Gregoire and Chafee have also briefed other governors on their strategy and urged them to join the petition. The governors seemed confident more would come on board.

“We strongly applaud the leadership of Governors Gregoire and Chafee in urging the Obama Administration to reclassify medical marijuana,” said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. “With the help of these governors, and likely others, it is only a matter of time before marijuana is rescheduled for medical use,” continued Sherer. “We look forward to a time when patients do not have to live in fear.” Meanwhile, advocates are encouraging the States of Washington and Rhode Island to join other states in implementing production and distribution programs for their patients.

The Gregoire/Chafee rescheduling petition also follows a similar petition was denied by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in July of this year. Americans for Safe Access, in collaboration with the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC), has appealed the federal government’s denial and the case is currently pending in the D.C. Circuit. The CRC filed its petition in 2002 and had not received a response until ASA sued the Obama Administration for unreasonable delay. Less than two months later, the DEA denied the petition.

Further information:
Gregoire/Chafee press release: http://www.governor.wa.gov/news/news-view.asp?pressRelease=1809&newsType=1
Gregoire/Chafee rescheduling petition: http://www.governor.wa.gov/priorities/healthcare/petition/combined_document.pdf
DOJ letter to Governor Gregoire: http://safeaccessnow.org/downloads/DOJ_Threat_Letter_WA.pdf
DOJ letter to Governor Chafee: http://safeaccessnow.org/downloads/DOJ_Threat_Letter_RI.pdf
CRC rescheduling petition: http://www.drugscience.org/PDF/Petition_Final_2002.pdf

From Americans For Safe Access


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    Federal researchers implanted several types of cancer, including leukemia and lung cancers, in mice, then treated them with cannabinoids (unique, active components found in marijuana). THC and other cannabinoids shrank tumors and increased the mice’s lifespans. Munson, AE et al. Antineoplastic Activity of Cannabinoids. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Sept. 1975. p. 597-602.


    In a 1994 study the government tried to suppress, federal researchers gave mice and rats massive doses of THC, looking for cancers or other signs of toxicity. The rodents given THC lived longer and had fewer cancers, “in a dose-dependent manner” (i.e. the more THC they got, the fewer tumors). NTP Technical Report On The Toxicology And Carcinogenesis Studies Of 1-Trans- Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, CAS No. 1972-08-3, In F344/N Rats And B6C3F Mice, Gavage Studies. See also, “Medical Marijuana: Unpublished Federal Study Found THC-Treated Rats Lived Longer, Had Less Cancer,” AIDS Treatment News no. 263, Jan. 17, 1997.


    Researchers at the Kaiser-Permanente HMO, funded by NIDA, followed 65,000 patients for nearly a decade, comparing cancer rates among non-smokers, tobacco smokers, and marijuana smokers. Tobacco smokers had massively higher rates of lung cancer and other cancers. Marijuana smokers who didn’t also use tobacco had no increase in risk of tobacco-related cancers or of cancer risk overall. In fact their rates of lung and most other cancers were slightly lower than non-smokers, though the difference did not reach statistical significance. Sidney, S. et al. Marijuana Use and Cancer Incidence (California, United States). Cancer Causes and Control. Vol. 8. Sept. 1997, p. 722-728.


    Donald Tashkin, a UCLA researcher whose work is funded by NIDA, did a case-control study comparing 1,200 patients with lung, head and neck cancers to a matched group with no cancer. Even the heaviest marijuana smokers had no increased risk of cancer, and had somewhat lower cancer risk than non-smokers (tobacco smokers had a 20-fold increased Lung Cancer risk). Tashkin D. Marijuana Use and Lung Cancer: Results of a Case-Control Study. American Thoracic Society International Conference. May 23, 2006.

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