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Legislative Alert

Co-sponsors Needed for Federal Medical Marijuana Bill

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) recently introduced H.R. 2618, a federal medical marijuana bill. H.R. 2618 reschedules marijuana from schedule I to schedule II, thereby making it available by prescription. This bill was first introduced 1981 and was co-sponsored by four Republicans, including Rep. Newt Gingrich, then an obscure second-term congressman from suburban Atlanta. The measure was subsequently reintroduced (H.R. 4498) in early 1982 with 71 additional co-sponsors.

If your member of Congress is supportive of medical marijuana, please take a moment to contact him/her to urge they co-sponsor the Frank medical marijuana bill. Interested members or staff should contact Mr. Robert Raben on Rep. Frank's staff (202-225-6906).

Although more research is needed, it is clear from rapidly accumulating anecdotal evidence that marijuana is a valuable aid in reducing pain and suffering for patients with a number of serious ailments, and that it is less toxic and costly than the conventional medicines for which it may be substituted.

Marijuana is an effective means of overcoming nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy, and nausea and appetite loss in the wasting syndrome of AIDS. It is also useful for various spastic conditions including multiple sclerosis, paraplegia, and quadriplegia, and it lowers intraocular pressure in people who suffer from open-angle glaucoma. For some people with epilepsy it is the only anticonvulsant that works. It has been used for centuries as an analgesic and is considered by many to be the best approach to migraine. It is also useful to some patients for the symptomatic treatment of depression, menstrual cramps, asthma and pruritus.

Many seriously ill patients in this country are already using marijuana to reduce their pain and suffering, even though they must risk arrest to obtain and use it. Informal buyers' clubs supplying marijuana to the seriously ill have been formed in many cities. Some of these clubs are small and almost clandestine; a few, such as the one in San Francisco, operate openly and serve several thousand clients on a regular basis. Despite these heroic efforts, the underground emergency distribution system reaches only a small proportion of the tens of thousands of patients who could benefit from legal marijuana.

This bill would amend federal law to permit physicians to prescribe marijuana to patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, glaucoma or spastic condition including multiple sclerosis, paraplegia and quadriplegia. Thirty-six states have adopted legislation designed to facilitate the availability of medical marijuana, but none of these programs can be implemented without a an amendment to federal law.

For additional information contact:

R. Keith Stroup or Allen St. Pierre
1001 Connecticut Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
202-483-5500 - telephone
202-483-0057 - fax
natlnorml@aol.com - e-mail

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