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Utah: DEA Warns Rabbits May Stay High All The Time If Medical Marijuana Is Passed

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With even the Mormon-dominated state of Utah now considering a bill that would allow patients with certain debilitating conditions to be treated with edible forms of cannabis, it's clear that change is coming everywhere, regardless of political stripe.

But last week, that didn't stop an agent of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration from testifying to a Utah Senate panel that if the bill passes, the state's rabbits and other wildlife may "cultivate a taste" for marijuana and stay high all the time, reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post .

"I deal in facts," claimed DEA Special Agent Matt Fairbanks, who's been working in Utah for a decade, as he warned the Senate of bhang-bombed bunnies. "I deal in science," said Fairbanks, who's a proud member of the "marijuana eradication" team in the state.

Fairbanks bragged about all the time he's spent pulling up back-country pot grows in the Utah mountains. He said that at some illegal marijuana grow sites, he saw "rabbits that had cultivated a taste for the marijuana."

"One of them refused to leave us, and we took all the marijuana around him, but his natural instincts to run were somehow gone," Fairbanks claimed of one stoned bunny.

Apparently the spectre of high hares wasn't scary enough to keep the Senate panel from approving the bill; it was sent to the full Utah Senate, where it will be debated this week.

U.S.: Earl Blumenauer, Jared Polis Introduce Bills To End Federal Marijuana Prohibition

JaredPolisEarlBlumenauerFederalLegalization

U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) on Friday introduced two bills that together would legalize and tax marijuana at the federal level.

Representative Blumenauer’s legislation, H.R. 1014, the Marijuana Tax Revenue Act of 2015, creates a federal excise tax on non-medical marijuana sales and moves this quickly growing industry out of the shadows. Representative Polis’s legislation, H.R. 1013, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, removes marijuana from the schedule set by the Controlled Substances Act; transitions marijuana oversight from the jurisdiction of the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and regulates marijuana like alcohol by inserting into the section of the U.S. Code governing “intoxicating liquors.”

More than 213 million people live in a state or jurisdiction that allows some form of legal use of marijuana. Twenty-three states currently allow for medical marijuana, while four states -- Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska--and the District of Columbia recently legalized the recreational use of small amounts of marijuana. Eleven additional states have passed laws allowing the use of low-THC forms of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions.

Oregon: First Industrial Hemp License In State Issued To Eagle Point Farmer

EdgarWinters(OregonHempFarmer)[CapitalPress]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Southwest Oregon farmer who has been issued the first state permit to grow industrial hemp said he and a nonprofit group of growers and activists plan a 25-acre hemp field this spring.

Edgar Winters of Eagle Point, director of the Oregon Agriculture Food & Rural Consortium, said it's difficult to get seeds, but also expressed optimism, reports Eric Mortenson at Capital Press.

Winters said the group would be ready to warehouse and process the hemp once a crop is harvested in late summer.

"We are in a position to do 40 tons a day at our processing mill,"said Winters, not to be confused with Texas blues rocker Edgar Winter of the Edgar Winter Group. "We've got our ducks in a row."

Importing hempseed requires the approval of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon State University are working with the DEA on that process.

Winters said a Canadian hemp company, Hemp Textiles International, has "breeders' rights" to its see and will not share their genetics with Oregon growers. Oregon state law requires hempseed produced in Oregon to be replanted.

"We're at a standstill," Winters said, but he added that seeds might be available from Russia, Hungary, Australia or New Zealand.

"We have to import to get started," he said. "We don't want our farmers to sit around another year."

U.S.: Patients Applaud Congressional Restriction On Federal Medical Marijuana Enforcement

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Historic measure in Omnibus Budget Bill is similar to House amendment passed earlier this year aimed at ending DOJ/DEA interference

The House and Senate Appropriations leadership has hammered out a budget bill that includes an historic amendment to curb federal Department of Justice (DOJ) enforcement in medical marijuana states. The measure, which was originally passed by the House in May with an unprecedented 219-189 vote, aims to prohibit the DOJ from spending taxpayer money to undermine state medical marijuana laws.

"This is great news for medical marijuana patients all across the country," said Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), one of the co-authors of the House measure. "This amendment protects patients while the federal government catches up with the views of the American people.

"Patients will have access to the care legal in their state without fear of federal prosecution," Rep. Farr said. "And our federal dollars will be spent more wisely on fighting actual crimes and not wasted going after patients."

"We applaud this Congress for doing the right thing by protecting the rights of patients, and ending a years-long attack on the medical marijuana community," said Mike Liszewski, government affairs director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a medical marijuana advocacy organization that has been championing the measure for years. "By approving this measure, Congress is siding with the vast majority of Americans who are calling for a change in how we enforce our federal marijuana laws."

U.S.: Federal Court To Hear Evidence On Whether Marijuana Is Misclassified As Dangerous Drug

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Meanwhile, federal Drug Enforcement Administration carries out latest raid on Los Angeles area medical marijuana dispensaries

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California will hold rare formal hearings beginning Monday, October 27, to determine whether an indictment against Brian Justin Pickard and others for conspiracy to grow more than 1,000 marijuana plants violates the U.S. Constitution, and whether marijuana is misclassified by the federal government as a dangerous Schedule I drug with no medical value.

What: Evidentiary hearing with several expert witnesses to review the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance

When: Starting Monday, October 27, 9 am and continuing to Wednesday, October 29

Where: Sacramento Federal Court, 501 I Street, Sacramento, Californbia

U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly J. Mueller will preside over the three-day hearing, which includes expert testimony from Drs. Carl Hart, associate professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at Columbia University in New York City, Greg Carter, medical director of St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington, retired physician Phillip Denny, as well as author, consultant, and expert witness Chris Conrad.

U.S.: Business Law Firm Issues Special Report On 'Legal Marijuana Business'

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As more states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, entrepreneurs believe they'll get rich from cannabis businesses that comply with the laws of a particular state. However, marijuana businesses that comply with state laws are still breaking federal law and, therefore, are criminal enterprises.

Business advisory and advocacy law firm McDonald Hopkins addresses this issue in a special report designed to help potential investors, vendors, and professionals, such as lawyers and bankers, understand the risks involved in participating in the so-called "legal marijuana business."

The report, authored by Bruce Reinhart, co-chair of McDonald Hopkins' white collar and government compliance practice group, details how federal law regulates controlled substances, and that only certain persons registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) can manufacture, distribute, and dispense controlled substances.

Reinhart outlines the tremendous risks businesses and business owners take on when dealing with legal marijuana businesses, including exposure to criminal prosecution, loss of assets, civil penalties, loss of licensure, and fiduciary duty litigation. These risks are assumed in an environment with limited -- if any -- protection from legal counsel or insurance.

Given the current legislative landscape, the report warns that the decision to enter the legal marijuana market should be made cautiously and with the advice of legal counsel experienced in criminal, civil, and forfeiture law.

New Mexico: Marijuana Decriminalization Initiative Officially Certified In Santa Fe

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First Time in New Mexico History People will Vote on Marijuana Reform

The Santa Fe City Clerk on Monday announced the Reducing Marijuana Penalties Campaign submitted enough valid signatures to qualify for the city's citizen initiative process setting the stage to give voters in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a vote on reducing marijuana penalties.

The Reducing Marijuana Penalties Campaign, headed by Drug Policy Action and ProgressNow NM, submitted close to 11,000 signatures in 52 days, more than twice the number needed to qualify for the ballot. The initiative now goes before the City Council where the governing body has two options, vote for the ordinance change outright or send the initiative to the people for a vote.

Not only will this be the first time in history that New Mexico's voters will cast their ballots on reforming marijuana laws, it is the first time that the people of Santa Fe brought forth an issue via the City’s citizen initiative process. The Santa Fe city charter permits voters to petition their government for changes to city ordinances, including those relating to marijuana.

U.S.: Hemp Industries Association Warns About Misbranding CBD Products as Hemp Oil

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The North American trade group Hemp Industries Association has published its position on what it called the misbranding of cannabidiol (CBD) products as "hemp oil." The new statement from HIA explains the difference between hemp oil and CBD extracts in terms of their respective uses and means of production, and emphasizes the need for accurate language in the marketplace so consumers aren't misled.

"Hemp oil is the common term for hempseed oil, obtained by pressing hemp seeds that contain low levels of CBD, typically less than 25 parts per million (ppm)," the position states. "In contrast, CBD extracts are produced either directly from cannabis flowers that are up to 15 percent CBD (150,000 ppm), or indirectly as a co-product of the flowers and leaves that are mixed in with the stalks during hemp stalk processing for fiber."

The Drug Enforcement Administration attempted to ban important and commerce of hempseed and oil food products in 2001, claiming these products were Schedule I controlled substances. However, HIA successfully sued the CDEA, unequivocally establishing hemp seed, oil, and protein as entirely legal to import, process, sell and consume in the United States.

U.S.: Senate To Vote On House-Approved Amendment To Protect Medical Marijuana States

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The Senate is expected to vote — possibly as soon as Thursday night or Friday — on a measure that is intended to shield medical marijuana patients and providers from enforcement of federal laws in states where medical marijuana is legal.

The amendment to S. 2347, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, to be offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), is intended to prohibit the Department of Justice, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from spending funds to raid and arrest state-licensed medical marijuana patients and providers. It will be the first time the amendment has been offered in the Senate.

The House medical marijuana amendment was offered by six Republicans and six Democrats: Reps. Rohrabacher (R-CA), Farr (D-CA), Young (R-AK), Blumenauer (D-OR), McClintock (R-CA), Cohen (D-TN), Broun (R-GA), Polis (D-CO), Stockman (R-TX), Lee (D-CA), Amash (R-MI) and Titus (D-NV). 170 Democrats and 49 Republicans voted for the amendment. It was approved on May 30 by a vote of 219-189.

“Poll after poll shows 70 to 80 percent of Americans support medical marijuana," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Even among conservatives, most oppose enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states where marijuana is legal for some purpose.

Massachusetts: 7 Doctors Warned By DEA For Being Involved With Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Less than two weeks after the U.S. House passed a measure that would defund Drug Enforcement Administration raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, reports have begun to surface of DEA agents intimidating physicians trying to work with state-legal dispensaries in Massachusetts.

At least four more Massachusetts doctors recently received visits from the DEA agents, bringing to seven the number who got an unexpected ultimatum from the DEA for authorizing patients to use medical marijuana.

Federal investigators told the doctors they would have to "sever ties" with medical marijuana dispensaries or risk losing their license to prescribe medications, reports Kay Lazar at MThe Boston Globe.

Already, some doctors have been forced to resign their advisory positions with dispensaries, which Massachusetts voters agreed in 2012 to allow.

A spokeswoman at the DEA's headquarters in Washington, D.C., refused requests for an interview. The agency on Friday released a terse statement.

U.S.: House Stops DEA From Undermining State Medical Marijuana and Hemp Laws

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First Time Ever Congress Approves Major Marijuana Law Reform

Bipartisan Rebuke of U.S. Drug War, DEA Overreach and Mismanagement by DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart

In a series of historic votes, the U.S. House voted to prohibit the DEA from undermining state marijuana laws. The House approved a bipartisan measure prohibiting the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from undermining state medical marijuana laws; the amendment passed with 219 yes votes. An amendment prohibiting the DEA from interfering with state hemp production laws passed with 237 yes votes. An amendment prohibiting the DEA from interfering with state hemp research programs passed with 246 yes votes.

“Each of these votes represents a major victory for those seeking more sensible marijuana policies,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Taken together, they represent an unprecedented change in course in the war on drugs. For years state after state has reformed their drug laws; now there’s a bipartisan consensus in Congress in favor of letting states set their own marijuana policies.”

The medical marijuana amendment was offered by six Republicans and six Democrats: Reps. Rohrabacher (R-CA), Farr (D-CA), Young (R-AK), Blumenauer (D-OR), McClintock (R-CA), Cohen (D-TN), Broun (R-GA), Polis (D-CO), Stockman (R-TX), Lee (D-CA), Amash (R-MI) and Titus (D-NV).

U.S.: House Tells DEA Hands Off State Hemp Programs

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The U.S. House of Representatives early Friday cut off funding for the Drug Enforcement Administration's interference in state-legal industrial hemp research, a sharp rebuke to the beleaguered agency less than a month after DEA agents seized hemp seeds meant for Kentucky's pilot program.

Two hemp-related amendments to the DEA's funding bill passed, reports Ryan J. Reilly at The Huffington Post. The amendments, introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) stop the Department of Justice, including the DEA, from blocking states' importation of hemp seeds, and from stopping the states from implementing laws authorizing industrial hemp cultivation made legal under this year's federal Farm Bill.

Massie's amendment passed 246-162, and Bonamici's passed 237-1780. The Senate will likely look at its own appropriations bill for the DEA and DOJ, and the House hemp amendments would have to survive that joint conference before taking effect. The House also voted to cut off funding for the DEA's medical marijuana raids in states where it is legal.

"The DEA has more important things to do than interfere with legal activities at the state level," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) "We need to remove this cloud of uncertainty."

U.S.: Congress Votes to End War on Medical Marijuana Patients and Providers

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49 Republicans and 170 Democrats approve historic amendment intended to prevent the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration from raiding state-legal medical marijuana dispensaries

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

After years of effort and six previous tries, an unprecedented victory has finally happened. Congress on Thursday night approved a measure (219-189) that will prevent the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. The legislation marks the first time in history that Congress has voted in favor of ending the federal government’s war on medical marijuana patients and providers. A record-high 49 Republicans joined 170 Democrats in voting for the measure.

The vote on Amendment 25 to H.R. 4660, the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), stops the Department of Justice, including the DEA, from spending funds to prevent states from implementing their own medical marijuana laws. The amendment has been offered seven times since 2003. It received a then-record high 165 votes in 2007, which included 15 Republicans.

U.S.: DEA Implicated In NSA Program To Record Every Cellphone Conversation In Bahamas

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Investigation Suggests DEA Using Drug Kingpins as Excuse to Broadly Monitor All Private Cell Communications in At Least Five Countries

The newest revelations emerging from an investigation spurred by documents released by Edward Snowden suggest that the NSA is using DEA access to wiretaps to record personal information in several foreign countries, including recording every cell phone conversation to, from, and within the Bahamas, a democratic ally that appears not to have knowledge of or have consented to the plan and that has national laws specifically forbidding such interference.

It was also revealed that the NSA lied to Congress about the extent of the surveillance program.

In an amazing story on The Intercept, authors Ryan Devereaux, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras explore SOMALGET, a subset of MYSTIC, an NSA program to monitor telecommunications around the globe, including Mexico, the Philippines, Kenya, and another nation left unnamed for fear of instigating violence, a group of countries representing more than 250 million people.

The story is reminiscent of an investigation by Reuters last year showing agencies sharing information in a tactic called "parallel construction" to obscure the origins of information in criminal trials, tying the hands of defense attorneys.

U.S.: Minority Leader McConnell Slams DEA For Blocking Kentucky Hemp Research

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Political Battle Builds as DEA Faces Growing Scrutiny for Slew of Scandals: Use of NSA Data to Spy on Virtually All Americans, Massacre of Civilians in Honduras, and Systematic Pattern of Fabricating Evidence

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart Increasingly At Odds With President Obama, Justice Dept., and Congress

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has weighed in on the political firestorm that has ensued since the DEA recently seized legal hemp seeds bound for a Kentucky hemp research program that was approved by Congress. McConnell told Politico Wednesday night, “It is an outrage that DEA is using finite taxpayer dollars to impound legal industrial hemp seeds.”

The Kentucky Agriculture Department is suing the agency.

Hemp is not legal to grow in the U.S., though hemp products can be produced and sold in the U.S. Some states have made its cultivation legal, but these states -– North Dakota, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, California, Montana, West Virginia and Vermont -– have not yet begun to grow it because of resistance from the DEA.

A few months ago, Congress legalized the production of hemp for research purposes in states that want to allow it. But when Kentucky recently tried to import hemp seeds to begin production, the DEA seized the seeds. Kentucky officials, including Kentucky Republican Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) were angered.

U.S.: Federal Medical Marijuana Defendant Goes To D.C. To Lobby Congress Before Trial

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Congressional vote expected this month to restrict DOJ enforcement against state-compliant patients like the "Kettle Falls 5"

Medical marijuana patient Larry Harvey, 70, is traveling to Washington, D.C., this week to persuade Congress to stop funding unnecessary federal prosecutions like his, according to patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA). Harvey is one of the "Kettle Falls 5," a federal medical marijuana case that is scheduled to go to trial next week in Spokane, Washington on May 12.

Despite repeated claims by the Obama Administration that it is not targeting individual patients, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has spent more than $3 million so far to prosecute five patients who were each growing less than 15 plants in accordance with state law. If convicted, the DOJ could spend as much as $13 million to send them to prison.

The "Kettle Falls 5" is made up of mostly family members, including Harvey, his wife Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, 55, her son Rolland Gregg, 33, daughter-in-law Michelle Gregg, 35, and friend of the family Jason Zucker, 38. All five are legal patients with serious medical conditions.

U.S.: Major Drug War Hearings In Congress This Week

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House Holds Hearing on Defense Department and State Department Drug War Activities, Senate Holds DEA Oversight Hearing

Hearings Come Amid Huge Domestic Drug Policy Reforms on Sentencing and Marijuana

This week, both chambers of Congress will hold major hearings on the Drug War.

On Tuesday, April 29, at 10 a.m., there will be joint subcommittee hearing entitled “Confronting Transnational Drug Smuggling: An Assessment of Regional Partnerships,” held by the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure's Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. These Committees will hear from General John F. Kelly, USMC Commander of Southern Command, at the Department of Defense, and Luis E. Arreaga Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, at the Department of State.

Then on Wednesday, April 30, at 10 a.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Drug Enforcement Administration”. The sole witness is the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Administrator Michele M. Leonhart.

The hearings come against a backdrop of huge domestic change with respect to the Drug War. In the past year, Attorney General Eric Holder has made a number of forceful public statements against mass incarceration in the U.S., promising significant rollback of mandatory minimums and harsh sentencing guidelines.

U.S.: Atty. Gen. Holder 'Cautiously Optimistic' About Legalization; Admits He's Tried Weed

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he is "cautiously optimistic" about marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington state, but added it's tough to predict where legalization will be in 10 years. In the same interview, Holder, the nation's top law enforcement official, admitted he had tried pot in college.

"I think there might have been a burst of feeling that what happened in Washington and Colorado was going to be soon replicated across the country," Holder told Ryan J. Reilly of The Huffington Post. "I'm not sure that is necessarily the case.

"I think a lot of states are going to be looking to see what happens in Washington, what happens in Colorado before those decisions are made in substantial parts of the country," he said.

The Department of Justice has allowed marijuana legalization to go forward in the two states where votes chose that course back in November 2012, and has issued guidance to federal prosecutors that is intended to open up banking services for cannabis businesses that are legal under state law.

U.S.: DEA Head Tells Congress Her Agency Is 'Fighting Back' Against Administration's Tolerance of Marijuana Legalization

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At a Wednesday House subcommittee hearing, DEA director Michele Leonhart publicly opposed Department of Justice position on legal marijuana in Colorado and Washington and warned of dangers of marijuana legalization … to pets

Dan Riffle of Marijuana Policy Project: 'It's Time For Her To Go'

Drug Enforcement Administration head Michele Leonhart apparently has no problem trash-talking her boss. The administrator of the DEA repeatedly criticized the Obama Administration at a Wednesday hearing on the DEA’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

In a memo released in July 2013, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it would not interfere with the effective implementation of laws regulating the cultivation and sale of marijuana for adults in Colorado and Washington. When asked by Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) during a Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies subcommittee hearing whether the Obama Administration’s tolerant views toward legal marijuana had affected morale at the DEA, which is a branch of the DOJ, Leonhart replied that “Our agents are fighting back against those messages. It makes us fight harder.”

The DEA administrator had earlier criticized the DOJ for a perceived delay in issuing a response to Washington and Colorado’s new laws, claiming there was “a lot of confusion in those 296 days.”

U.S.: Epilepsy Foundation Calls For Increased Medical Marijuana Access and Research

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In a groundbreaking statement on Thursday, the Epilepsy Foundation called for increased medical marijuana access and research to treat epilepsy.

"The Epilepsy Foundation supports the right of patients and families living with seizures and epilepsy to access physician directed care, including medical marijuana," reads the statement, from Philip M. Gattone, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation, and Warren Lammert, chair of the Epilepsy Foundation Board of Directors.

"If a patient and their healthcare professionals feel that the potential benefits of medical marijuana for uncontrolled epilepsy outweigh the risks, then families need to have that legal option now -- not in five years or 10 years," the strongly worded statement reads.

"The Epilepsy Foundation calls for an end to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) restrictions that limit clinical trials and research into medical marijuana for epilepsy," the statement reads. "We applaud recent decisions that have allowed trials of Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, to begin in several states.

"Certain components of medical marijuana, including CBD, have shown effectiveness in animal studies, and there have been encouraging anecdotal reports from patients," the statement reads. "But further research and unbiased clinical trials are needed to establish whether and in what forms medical marijuana is or is not effective and safe. Restrictions on the use of medical marijuana continue to stand in the way of this research.

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