The Michael J. Fox Foundation on Wednesday joined nearly 150 patient advocates are urging Congress and the Trump administration to consider marijuana as an option for pain in an effort to stem the tide of the US opioid overdose crisis.
It’s not the first time the foundation, which is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease, that it has spoken out in favor of cannabis as a treatment for pain management. In July of 2016, the organization made a strong plea to “facilitate safe and legal access to medical cannabis for patients and physicians acting in accordance with state law and lift federal barriers to research.”
The Michael J. Fox Foundation collaborated with these groups in the battle for medical marijuana therapy:
- National Multiple Sclerosis Society
- The Michael J. Fox Foundation
- Epilepsy Foundation
- US Pain Foundation
- Tourette Association of America
- Americans for Safe Access
- Realm of Caring National
- Women’s Health Network
The coalition held a rally on Wednesday in Washington D.C. where Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer spoke. “The opioid crisis is a national emergency, killing 147 people a day. We must do more to help the families and communities torn apart by addiction,” Blumenauer said before the rally. “At the very least, the federal government should stay out of the way as states allow access to safer alternatives to opioids like medical cannabis.”
Steph Sherer, the executive director of Americans for Safe Access, stresses that the federal government needs to keep away from the 30 states that have medical marijuana programs, “We are gathering to ask that Congress maintain the Medical Cannabis [Commerce, Justice, Science] amendment which protects patients in medical cannabis states from federal interference, allowing states to progress beyond the nearly 25% decrease they have already seen in opioid overdose deaths,” she said. “One in three Americans suffer from chronic pain and one in ten have experienced severe pain every day for three months or more. Policy makers need to include a health care approach to the opioid crisis not just a law enforcement response. Medical cannabis programs are saving lives.”
The coalition’s letter, sent to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate and House Committees on Appropriations, reads:
On behalf of the patient community, we, the undersigned organizations, urge you to ensure that the amendment introduced by Ranking Member Leahy and subsequently included in the Senate’s 2018 Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill that prohibits the Justice Department from using funds to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana” is included in the 2018 final appropriations bill.
Our organizations advocate for millions of Americans living with various severe and debilitating medical conditions. We have seen first-hand the devastation these conditions can inflict upon patients and their loved ones.
We are committed to exploring and advocating for all potential treatment options, including medical cannabis for those individuals who could benefit from its therapeutic use. We believe that the over 2 million patients currently utilizing medical cannabis in the United States, who act in compliance with their state laws, should remain protected from federal interference and prosecution. These patients, in accordance to their doctors’ recommendations, deserve to continue their course of treatment as was afforded to them under the previous versions of this amendment. Please do not let politics get in the way of patient care.