Medical Marijuana

New FDA Bill: Blow to Medical Marijuana?

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From the Politico, via Americans for Safe Access. Right before the vote on the new drug safety bill that passed the Senate last week (extending FDA authority over the lifecycle of a drug, not just prior to approval):

An amendment by Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) was adopted that required marijuana to undergo the same Food and Drug Administration approval process that other prescription drugs do.

Until this process is accomplished—and it typically takes about five years—those in the medical marijuana business apprehended by federal authorities could face penalties for violating FDA regulations as well as selling an illegal substance, even where state laws sanction the use. [Medical pot] activists say the conservative senator clearly intended to shut down medical marijuana cooperatives…..

Steph Sherer, founder and executive director of Americans for Safe Access, which advocates for medical marijuana only, said her group learned of Coburn's amendment the night before the markup.

Her staff called members of the panel to try to dissuade them from approving the amendment, and she said everyone they talked to voted against it. She's hopeful that Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), who voted with Republicans for the amendment, will change their minds.

Karen Woodson, ASA's director of government affairs, said Coburn's amendment is about prohibition, not regulation. The tests necessary to secure FDA approval would be impossible to conduct, she explained, because the Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Institute for Drug Abuse don't give researchers permission to grow marijuana.