Pubdate: Thu, 22 Feb 2007
Source: North County Times (Escondido, CA)
Copyright: 2007 North County Times
Note: Gives LTE priority to North San Diego County and Southwest 
Riverside County residents
Author: Lisa Leff, AP
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)


OAKLAND, Calif. -- Armed with a new study that showed smoking 
marijuana eased pain in some HIV patients, medical marijuana 
advocates sued the federal government Wednesday over its claim that 
pot has no accepted medical benefits.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court by Americans for Safe Access 
accuses the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of engaging 
in "arbitrary and unlawful behavior" that prevents "sick and dying 
persons from seeking to obtain medicine that could provide them 
needed, and often lifesaving relief."

The Oakland-based advocacy group wants a judge to force the 
department and the Food and Drug Administration to stop giving out 
information that casts doubt on the efficacy of marijuana in treating 
various illnesses.

"The FDA position on medical cannabis is incorrect, dishonest and a 
flagrant violation of laws requiring the government to base policy on 
sound science," Joe Elford, chief counsel for Americans for Safe 
Access, said in a statement.

California is one of 11 states where marijuana use is legal for 
people with a doctor's recommendation, but because the U.S. 
government does not recognize pot's medical benefits patients can 
still be arrested and prosecuted by federal authorities.

Last week, researchers from the University of California, San 
Francisco reported in the journal Neurology that a test involving 50 
HIV patients showed that those who smoked pot experienced much less 
pain than those given placebos.

Americans for Safe Access said in the lawsuit that Health and Human 
Services has rejected its requests to retract the assertion that 
cannabis "has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the 
United States," a position the agency has advertised since 2000.

Countering that statement by petitioning the government and 
distributing evidence that marijuana eases the symptoms of cancer, 
multiple sclerosis, HIV and other conditions has cost Americans for 
Safe Access more than $100,000, the group said in its suit.

The Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately have 
a response to the lawsuit.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman