Congress Introduces HR 2835, The Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

ASA Government Affairs Director Caren Woodson 510-388-0546
or ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes 510-681-6361

Congress Introduces HR 2835, The Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act

Bill would reschedule marijuana for medical use, end federal interference in state laws

WASHINGTON - In another effort to change federal policy
on medical marijuana, Congressional Representative Barney Frank
(D-MA) introduced the "Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act," HR
2835, late yesterday. The bill, which was co-sponsored by 13 bipartisan
Members of
Congress at the time of introduction, would change federal policy on
medical marijuana in a number
of
ways. Specifically, the Act would change marijuana from a Schedule
I drug, classified as having no medical value, to a Schedule II drug,
which would recognize marijuana's medical efficacy and create a
regulatory
framework for the FDA to begin a drug approval process for marijuana.
The act would also prevent interference by the federal government in
any local or state run medical marijuana program.

Although similar versions of the Act have been introduced in previous
Congressional
terms, the Obama Administration's willingness to change federal policy
on medical marijuana creates a new political context and may facilitate
passage of this important legislation. "We are encouraged by the
federal government's willingness to address this issue and to bring
about a more sensible and humane policy on medical marijuana," said
Caren Woodson,
Government Affairs Director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a
nationwide advocacy group working with the Obama Administration,
Representative Frank and
other Members of Congress to change federal policy. "It's time to
recognize marijuana's medical efficacy, and to develop a comprehensive
plan that will provide access to medical marijuana and protection for
the hundreds of
thousands of sick Americans that benefit from its use."

In addition to rescheduling marijuana under the Controlled Substances
Act (CSA), HR 2835 would provide protection from the CSA and the
federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) for qualified patients and
caregivers in states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana.
Specifically, the act prevents the CSA and FDCA from prohibiting or
restricting: (1) a physician from prescribing or recommending marijuana
for medical use, (2) an individual from obtaining, possessing,
transporting within their state, manufacturing, or using marijuana in
accordance with their state law, (3) an individual authorized under
State law from obtaining, possessing, transporting within their state,
or manufacturing marijuana on behalf of an authorized patient, or (4)
an entity authorized under local or State law to distribute medical
marijuana to authorized patients from obtaining, possessing, or
distributing marijuana to such authorized patients.

The Obama Administration has made repeated statements that it intends
to end federal enforcement against medical marijuana, but has yet to
provide a detailed plan of implementation. A lack of clarity on this
policy change has prompted Congress to take action. In addition to the
introduction of Frank's bill yesterday, Representative Maurice Hinchey
(D-NY) introduced language Tuesday within the Commerce, Justice and
Science Departments (CJS) Appropriations bill seeking clarification on
the Administration's policy. "It's imperative that the federal
government respect states' rights and stay out of the way of patients
with debilitating diseases such as cancer who are using medical
marijuana in accordance with state law to alleviate their pain," said
Hinchey in a press release issued Tuesday.

Further information:
At the time of release the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection
Act, HR 2835, was not yet published by the Government Printing Office
(GPO), but contains identical language of Rep. Frank's bill introduced
last year (HR 5842): http://safeaccessnow.org/downloads/HR5842.pdf

HR 2835 can be reviewed at the following site once it's published:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.2835:

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Americans for Safe Access is the nation's largest organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research.

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