Griffith, Blumenauer Introduce Compassionate Access Act to Reschedule Marijuana and CBD

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 | Andie Pivarunas (202-225-3861)

Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) today introduced the Compassionate Access Act to reschedule marijuana and cannabidiol (CBD).  The Compassionate Access Act would allow the states to provide appropriate access to patients needing these legitimate, medical treatments under the supervision of their physician.  This bipartisan legislation is supported by the Epilepsy Foundation, the American Academy of Neurology, and Americans for Safe Access.

The Compassionate Access Act sets up a process to reschedule marijuana from its current position as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which asserts the drug has no medical use and limits the ability of researchers to study the drug’s safety and effectiveness as a treatment.  The bill provides protections and access to patients, parents of minor children, other caretakers, pharmacies, producers, and testing labs in states where medical marijuana is legal when the treatment is prescribed by a physician.  The legislation also exempts CBD from the federal definition of marijuana in recognition of CBD’s unique ability to treat and prevent epileptic seizures, especially in children.

Griffith said, “There are countless reports of marijuana’s medicinal benefits in treating conditions including cancer, epilepsy, and glaucoma.  It is time to research this further, and, where legal, to allow real doctors and real pharmacists to prescribe or dispense marijuana for legitimate medical reasons for real patients.  I am pleased to have Congressman Blumenauer join me in introducing this legislation.  I believe the Compassionate Access Act is a good, responsible approach.”

Blumenauer said, “Well over one million patients are currently benefitting from the medical use of marijuana in consultation with a physician and in accordance with state law.  Yet, all forms of marijuana use remain illegal at the federal level, classified as severely as heroin under the Controlled Substances Act.  This makes no sense.  The Compassionate Access Act will bring us closer to a reality where federal law does not get in the way of patients, doctors, business owners and researchers working to bring safer access to patients.”

“The Epilepsy Foundation applauds Representatives Griffith and Blumenauer for their leadership and commitment to innovation demonstrated by their introduction of the Compassionate Access Act today.  The Epilepsy Foundation is committed to supporting physician directed care, and to exploring and advocating for all potential treatment options for epilepsy.  People with uncontrolled seizures live with the continual risk of serious injuries and loss of life.  Not everyone with epilepsy should or would consider cannibidiol (CBD) or medical cannabis as a treatment option, and further research is needed on the connection between cannabis and seizures.  But medical cannabis, when recommended by a treating physician, may be the best alternative for some individuals living with drug resistant epilepsy and uncontrolled seizures.  This legislation is key to safeguarding that access and will lift federal barriers to research," said Phil Gattone, President & CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation.

“We are encouraged by the potential this bill has to accelerate research on possible medical uses for marijuana,” said Timothy A. Pedley, MD, FAAN, President of the American Academy of Neurology.  “Without rigorous scientific data, however, the true benefits and possible side effects of medical marijuana will remain unknown. Reclassifying medical marijuana from its current Schedule 1 status will give researchers who study its effects on the brain increased opportunities to conduct evidence-based clinical trials that, we hope, will clarify the clinical indications for its use in patients with neurological conditions such as epilepsy and MS.”

“ASA supports the Compassionate Access Act because it is important for Congress to protect state-legal medical marijuana patients and to require a scientific determination on redesignation of marijuana out of Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act,” said Mike Liszewski, Government Affairs Director at Americans for Safe Access.

BACKGROUND:

In April 2014, Griffith introduced H.R. 4498, the Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act (LUMMA).  The bipartisan Compassionate Access Act, which includes input from various stakeholders, builds on Griffith’s initial efforts.

In 1979, Virginia passed measures to permit the use of marijuana for the purposes of treating cancer or glaucoma.  However, this is blocked by the current federal law, which these bills would alleviate.  On February 26, 2015, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed HB 1445 into law, which adds further protections for patients using CBD to treat epileptic seizures.  According to a new Quinnipiac University poll, Virginia voters support the use of medical marijuana by a margin of 86 percent to 11 percent.

Text of the Compassionate Access Act is attached.

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