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What is the Society’s position on the use of marijuana for medical purposes?
The Society supports the rights of people with MS to work with their health care provider to access marijuana for medical purposes in accordance with legal regulations in those states where such use has been approved. In addition, the Society supports the need for more research to better understand the benefits and potential risks of marijuana and its derivatives as a treatment for MS.
The use of marijuana is still illegal at the federal level; however, since 2013 Congress has passed language through annual appropriations bills known as the Rohrabacher–Farr Amendment to reduce uncertainty around state laws governing the use of medical marijuana. This amendment prohibits the Department of Justice from using funds to prevent states which have passed medical marijuana laws from implementing those laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana. This language effectively prohibits the Department of Justice from enforcing the Controlled Substances Act as it applies to medical marijuana.
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Does the Society advocate for access to medical marijuana?
The National MS Society supports the ability of people living with MS to make an informed choice about their treatments, including the use of medical marijuana, with their MS health care providers. Recognizing that additional research is still needed, we are evaluating ways we can remove the barriers to allowing research on medical marijuana at the federal level, which is complex due to government restrictions. We advocate in support of legalizing medical cannabis at the state level.
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What have been the findings to date of research funded in this area by the Society?
The Society supported a clinical trial of different forms of cannabis products to test their ability to relieve spasticity in people with MS. Unfortunately, the investigator was not able to complete this trial due to challenges with recruiting patients able to adhere to the significant government requirements for trials using cannabis products.
The Society is committed to funding additional research with cannabis products and to addressing government regulations that may be impeding research progress.