Pubdate: Fri, 24 Sep 2004
Source: Drug War Chronicle (US Web)
Author: Phillip S. Smith, Editor
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Medical marijuana patients and supporters from around the country are
heading to Washington a week from now to demand that the Department of
Health and Human Services (HHS) reschedule marijuana. Under current
drug schedules, marijuana is considered a Schedule I, like heroin or
PCP, with no approved medical uses.

Organized by Americans for Safe Access (
under the rubric "Stop the Federal War on Patients Forever,"
demonstrators will begin converging on Washington on Saturday, October
2nd for a weekend of training and preparation, followed by a day of
press and other events and the submission of a petition demanding that
HHS revise its position that marijuana has "no currently accepted
medical use" the following Monday, followed up by rally at HHS at
10:00am, Tuesday, October 5th.

The petition is being filed under the federal Data Quality Act, which
mandates that government regulatory agencies take into account the
most scientifically accurate information in arriving at decisions. If,
after further consideration, HHS concedes that marijuana does have
medical uses, the DEA would be forced to reschedule marijuana. Two
earlier efforts to reschedule marijuana have been rebuffed, one after
languishing for 16 years, the other rejected just prior to the
commencement of DEA raids on California medical marijuana patients and
providers by the John Ashcroft Justice Department.

"We believe there is enough medical and scientific research out there
to more than justify rescheduling marijuana, and that if HHS complies
with the Data Quality Act, it will have to recommend rescheduling,"
said Stacey Swimme, ASA field manager. "They have the ability to do it
tomorrow if they want to. They have to take into consideration all
research, not just research they want to see," she told DRCNet.

According to ASA, at this point, busloads of patients are set to come
in from Philadelphia, New York, and Providence, as well as carpools
bringing patients and supporters from West Virginia, southwestern
Pennsylvania, eastern Maryland, and as far away as Jacksonville,
Florida. But there will undoubtedly be patients from elsewhere as
well, as groups including the Ohio Patients Network, Texans for
Medical Marijuana, and patients from the Midwest have signed on to the

Some, perhaps a busload, will be coming from Massachusetts, said
Whitney Taylor, executive director of the Drug Policy Forum of
Massachusetts ( "There has been an e-mail sent
out, and ASA has over a hundred people on their list here in
Massachusetts alone, so there is a good chance we can fill a bus," she
told DRCNet. "We ought to know by the middle of next week."

That the action targets rescheduling to make marijuana available as a
medicine under federal law and includes public demonstrations makes it
doubly attractive, said Taylor. "This is a very important action
because it's a new approach, trying to work on the regulatory
apparatus that is already in place," she said. "The more patients and
doctors who come out in public for this and maybe even commit acts of
civil disobedience will help get the point across about how important
this is."

The timing of the action during the high political season is no
accident, said Swimme. "We feel like there is a lot of media attention
on Washington right now because of the election, and there is not
necessarily a lot for those press people to do. We will give them
something to write about," she said. "We feel like we have to get this
message out before the election to remind people that medical
marijuana is a major issue. It has 80% support across the country,
more states will be voting on initiatives this fall, and we want to
inform the next president that we're still here and we are not going
to let what happened during the Bush administration happen again
during the next four years, whether it's Bush or Kerry."

For more information about the "Stop the Federal War on Patients
Forever" actions, visit Americans for Safe Access at online. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake