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DHHS Continues to Postpone Decision on AIDS/Medical Marijuana Study

Only a few more weeks are left for us to lobby the Dept. of Health & Human Services (DHHS) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to provide marijuana for Dr. Donald Abrams' FDA-approved study on the effectiveness of marijuana vs. marinol for treating AIDS Wasting Syndrome. Dr. Abrams, of the University of California at San Francisco, has tried for over 2 1/2 years to hurdle the many bureaucratic obstacles government agencies have placed in his way. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has refused to grant an import permit to obtain marijuana legally from a Dutch pharmaceutical corporation that has offered to donate it, leaving NIDA the only possible legal source. NIDA has provided marijuana for research projects, government- funded or otherwise, on a regular basis for several decades.

According to Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the medical marijuana issue and this research project were both discussed at a meeting of NIDA's National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse on February 7th. NIDA Director Dr. Alan Leshner said "Obviously, this is an issue that we must be very careful to review properly. ... It will probably be a couple of weeks yet before we are done with the review." Dorothy Preslar, of the Federation of American Scientists, read the statement FAS adopted last November, recommending that "the federal government should remove legal barriers to research, provide direct or indirect financial support for such research and, in the meantime, allow continued and expanded use of the drug under a compassionate research program for patients whose doctors prescribe whole marijuana." The FAS statement also specifically endorsed Dr. Abram's research. Dr. Douglas Ward, a D.C. physician who specializes in AIDS cases called on NIDA to release marijuana for the study, noting that one of his patients had been charged with marijuana possession and is facing the possibility of jail-time. Two council members made comments strongly indicating that they favored allowing the study to begin.

Several U.S. Senators and Representatives have written letters to DHHS expressing their support for Dr. Abrams' research. We need more, however, ESPECIALLY REPUBLICANS. Please call the offices of your Representative and your two Senators; ask for the name of the staff member who would deal with health and/or drug policy issues. Then write to all three staffers, with the request that your Senator or Representative write to Secretary Donna Shalala in support of NIDA providing marijuana for Dr. Abrams FDA-approved study (IND #43,542).

Include her address:

Dr. Donna Shalala

Some points for your letters:

BE PERSISTENT! Congressional staffers are likely to let this issue drop if it isn't brought before them repeatedly.

The Marijuana Policy Project is a new organization devoted solely to lobbying Congress and other federal agencies. 100% of membership dues go towards lobbying. Members receive a monthly newsletter, Marijuana Policy Report. To join, send $50 annual dues or a $5 monthly contribution to:

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