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Treatment Briefs: Marijuana's Ups and Downs in California


GMHC Treatment Issues 1997 Apr 15; 11(4/5): 11

An April 21 early morning raid by federal narcotics agents netted over 300 marijuana seedlings at Flower Therapy, one of the San Francisco medicinal marijuana distribution centers that serve people with AIDS. Flower Therapy was trying to operate under the umbrella of California Proposition 215, which state voters passed last fall to authorize physicians' prescription of cannabis. The federal agents acted without the knowledge of local authorities and left before any of Flower Therapy's staff arrived for work. Business was not interrupted, and no arrests have been made so far.

A week later, a federal judge in San Francisco extended a temporary retraining order she had issued April 11 in a separate physicians' and patients' lawsuit. The suit seeks to bar the Clinton administration from penalizing doctors who advise their patients on marijuana's medical uses. Under the preliminary injunction issued by Judge Fern Smith, doctors are protected only up to a point. They still may not actively aid their patients in obtaining marijuana.

A bill proposed in the U.S. Senate by Lauch Faircloth (R-NC) provides for revocation of a doctor's right to prescribe controlled substances and prison terms of up to eight years for physicians who recommend marijuana to patients. At the same time, the California legislature is considering a bill to set up a task force that would study ways of supplying the plant to those with a medical need. The bill also would appropriate $6 million to test marijuana's medical applications. This bill recently received the endorsement of the California Medical Association.

The California bill could be helpful to Donald Abrams, M.D., who is director of the Community Consortium, a Bay Area network of HIV/AIDS care providers. He has been trying for the last three years to put together a feasibility study on using marijuana to reverse AIDS-related anorexia and weight loss. Having run up against a stonewall erected by The Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Institute for Drug Abuse, Dr. Abrams is now re-applying for a research grant from the National Institutes of Health. The NIH rejected a similar grant request from the doctor last year.


Copyright © 1997 -Gay Men's Health Crisis, Publisher. All rights reserved to Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) Treatment Issues. Reproduced with permission. Treatment Issues is published twelve times yearly by GMHC, INC. Noncommercial reproduction is encouraged. Subscription lists are kept confidential. GMHC Treatment Issues, The Tisch Building, 119 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10011 Email GMHC. Visit GMHC

Information in this article was accurate in April 15, 1997. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.