Advocacy group's suit calls on U.S. to acknowledge pot's medicinal
By Eric Bailey
Times Staff Writer
SACRAMENTO — A patient advocacy group sued the federal government
Wednesday to try to force U.S. health agencies to acknowledge that marijuana has
merit as a medicine.
The lawsuit by Americans for Safe Access follows a
two-year effort to reverse what it calls a "misinformation campaign" by U.S.
Americans for Safe Access is suing under the Data
Quality Act, a little-known statute that lets citizens challenge the accuracy of
The Oakland-based group filed a
petition in October 2004 asking the United States to reverse its staunch
opposition to pot as medicine. After months of delays, the government rejected
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human
Services said the agency could not comment because of the litigation.
years, U.S. regulators have said marijuana has no accepted medicinal
Such statements are "false and misleading," Americans for Safe
Access said in its lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland. The group
cited peer-reviewed studies suggesting cannabis can be effective for AIDS
wasting, muscle spasticity and chronic pain.
The government's stance
ignores its own studies, activists say.
A 1999 report by the Institute of
Medicine declared that marijuana showed medicinal promise and advocated the
development of cannabis-based drugs.
Since then, the University of
California has begun several rigorous studies to test marijuana's medical
efficacy. Last week, a UC San Francisco researcher announced that clinical
trials found marijuana helped treat HIV pain.
Meanwhile, British drug
company GW Pharmaceuticals won Canadian approval for a marijuana spray for
multiple sclerosis. The firm hopes to eventually market Sativex in the United