Pubdate: Sun, 01 May 2005
Source: Mothering (US)
Section: Issue 124, May/June 2004
Copyright: 2005 Mothering Magazine
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Women)
Related: Is Marijuana A Valuable Treatment For Autism?
Related: Common Treatments For Hyperemesis Gravidarum
Related: Medical Marijuana: A Surprising Solution To Severe Morning Sickness
Related: Marijuana Use during Pregnancy


Marijuana, in all its forms, has enjoyed thousands of years of safe and 
effective medical use. Physicians in the US were enthusiastic about its use 
up until the time of its prohibition in 1937. When the Marijuana Tax Act of 
1937 was instituted, a nationwide effort was undertaken to remove 
references to the use of cannabis in medicine, and a sweeping campaign 
based on fear and propaganda was instituted to demonize the cannabis plant 
and its users.

The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 (P.L. 
91-513) established the current US practice of scheduling drugs and 
mandated the inclusion of marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinol, in Schedule I 
along with heroin and PCP. Drugs such as cocaine, amphetamine, 
methamphetamine, and most opiates are scheduled in less restrictive 
categories and thus are considered by law to be less dangerous than marijuana.

Under California Proposition 215, an individual can grow marijuana for his 
or her own medical use. In addition, clinics and medical cannabis 
cooperatives can dispense marijuana.

Recently, however, federal officials have stepped up arrests.

In 2002, Bryan Epis was convicted by federal authorities for providing 
medical marijuana to a dispensary in California and is serving a mandatory 
minimum sentence of ten years in a federal correctional institution. During 
his trial, the jury was not permitted to hear any mention of medical 
marijuana by the defense, despite the existence of state laws permitting 
his actions.

His 11-year-old daughter, Ashley, has seen her dad only twice since he was 

Because of injuries suffered years earlier, and despite the narcotics 
prescribed to ease his suffering, Mr. Epis was unable to live without 
excruciating pain until he began using cannabis for its analgesic 
properties. Once his pain was dramatically reduced, he was able to complete 
several degrees and begin his family.

However, his promising future was cut short because he chose to use, and 
provide other suffering people with, a herbal remedy.

Notwithstanding an overwhelming majority of support for medical marijuana, 
only eight states -- Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, 
Oregon, and Washington --currently have laws that permit its use. (See for details of each state's medical 
marijuana statutes.) Nowhere in the US is marijuana legal to possess under 
federal law, and federal agents continue to target medical marijuana 
dispensaries, even when such organizations are protected by state laws.
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