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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) has introduced a bill, HR 4498, in the U.S. Congress that would have the federal government legally allow the states to move towards an appropriate use of medicinal marijuana.
Griffith, whose 9th District includes Galax and the Twin Counties, said Virginia passed a medical marijuana statute for glaucoma and cancer treatment in 1979 in the anticipation that one day, federal law would allow it.
“It probably should have happened sooner, but Virginia’s responsible approach should have to wait no more.”
The Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act (LUMMA): would prohibit the federal government from preventing the prescription, possession, transportation and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes in compliance with applicable state law. The bill would also reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II drug.
The Controlled Substance Act (CSA), which became law in 1970, provides for the current classification of marijuana. In 1979, Virginia passed measures to permit the use of marijuana for the purposes of treating cancer or glaucoma. However, this is blocked by the current federal law, which Griffith’s bill would alleviate.
“Isn’t it cruel to not allow real doctors, real drug companies and real pharmacists to use marijuana for legitimate medical reasons for real patients?” Griffith said in a statement after introducing the bill. “We use all sorts of opioids under the same scenario that this bill would allow us to use marijuana.”
He said the act “would merely allow health care professionals and patients to have another legal tool to use.”
Griffith shared a personal experienced that informed his decision to introduce the bill:
“Decades ago, I knew of someone who was suffering from cancer. This man had a two-year-old child and wanted to do all in his power to spend as much time as possible with his child. Every moment was important to him.
“I was told by his friends that his doctors instructed hospital staff to not go into his room between 11 a.m. and noon. His friends would sneak marijuana into the hospital for him to use medically during that time.
“Doing so gave him the appetite and ability to eat his lunch, which arrived at noon, thus increasing his strength and giving him potentially more time with his child and other loved ones.”
Twenty-five years later, Griffith was answering questions from a group of high school students when the issue of marijuana came up. “After discussing the above situation, another hand goes up. I am expecting a return to questions about the recreational use of marijuana, which I oppose. Instead, the room goes quiet as the young man says, ‘They did that for my daddy, too.’”
Besides cancer and glaucoma, there are other possible uses for medical marijuana, including epilepsy.
Griffith said The Washington Post recently highlighted families like that of Beth Collins, formerly of Virginia.
Collins, who said her teenage daughter suffered as many as 300 epileptic seizures per day, according to the Post, recently moved with her family to Colorado to try medical marijuana oil in an effort to give her daughter Jennifer “a chance at a normal life.”
According to the Washington Post, Jennifer said the scientifically untested treatment helped. “I can focus more, I’m doing better on tests in school. My memory’s improved a lot,” the newspaper reported. Her seizures are not completely gone, but her mother said that “we’ve had days where I’ve seen very few, maybe one or two. That’s a major decrease.”
Click links below for the full text of the Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act (LUMMA) and Virginia’s medical marijuana law.