By Tom Jackman
Virginia Rep. Morgan Griffith (R) this week introduced a bill in Congress that would remove the federal obstacle to prescribing and possessing medical marijuana in states where that is legal, such as Virginia. He said he knows this will be a long hard fight, “but you’ve got to start somewhere.”
Griffith’s bill is titled the “Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act,” and is only four pages. It moves marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, in a grouping with not only cocaine and methamphetamine but Ritalin and Adderall, drugs prescribed legally for children.
Removing marijuana from Schedule I takes it out of the “no currently accepted medical use” category and allows research to be conducted more easily, and would allow doctors to prescribe it in states where medical marijuana is legal to possess, such as Virginia.
Virginia does not allow the sale of medical marijuana, but it has had a law on the books since 1979 permitting its prescription and possession for medical purposes.
When Griffith was a state delegate, he said he was the only Republican to oppose an effort to erase that law from Virginia’s statutes, an effort which was unsuccessful. Even in states such as Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal, doctors may not prescribe it because of federal law restricting prescription authority. Instead, doctors “recommend” it.
Griffith said he had been considering introducing such a bill, and then saw a story in The Washington Post earlier this month about families from Northern Virginia who had moved to Colorado to obtain medical marijuana oil for their children with epilepsy. But he has long been a supporter of medical marijuana, saying he once knew of a cancer patient who was provided marijuana secretly in order to build up his appetite to eat and survive.
“Isn’t it cruel,” Griffith said, “to not allow real doctors, real drug companies and real pharmacists to use marijuana for legitimate medical reasons for real patients? We use all sorts of opioids under the same scenario that this bill would allow us to use marijuana.” He said the Virginia law “is the right way to go, but the DEA can’t let anyone use it legally. This eliminates that and allows you to move forward.”