Pot Advocates Lobby Congress for FDA Procedure

Photograph by Elaine Thompson/AP Photo

Different strains of marijuana are displayed during the grand opening of the Seattle location of the Northwest Cannabis Market, for sales of medical marijuana products, on Feb. 13, 2013.

Marijuana’s political potency is growing in Washington.

Americans for Safe Access held what it called the first-ever Washington conference on medical marijuana at the Mayflower Hotel from Feb. 22-25. About 300 people participated.

Attendees  gathered outside the Capitol early Monday morning, waving signs that said, “Get politics out of medicine.” After a pep rally and press conference, advocates from 32 separate states fanned out to try to meet their local representatives, pushing for federal legislation on an issue that’s been run at the state and local level so far.

They want Congress to pass a bill to establish a procedure for the federal Food and Drug Administration to review cannabis, and for possible approval for legal use. The measure also would prevent federal prosecution for medical use in states where it’s legal.

“The 19 jurisdictions that permit medical marijuana are operating in a patchwork of inconsistent local and federal laws,” U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat who met with the activists, said in a letter to House colleagues on Feb. 14. Medical-marijuana use is legal in Oregon and Blumenauer has proposed a federal excise tax on legal sales.

A briefing for congressional aides included labor representatives and local lawmakers, as well as Boaz Wachtel, who worked with Israel’s Ministry of Health to set up that nation’s medical marijuana program.

Read Bloomberg’s full story on labor leaders backing marijuana advocates here.

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