(a) Marijuana’s recorded use as a medicine goes back nearly 5,000 years. Modern medical research has confirmed the beneficial uses for marijuana in treating or alleviating the pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with a variety of debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS, as found by the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine in March 1999.
(b) Studies published since the 1999 Institute of Medicine report have continued to show the therapeutic value of marijuana in treating a wide array of debilitating medical conditions. These include relief of the neuropathic pain caused by multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, and other illnesses that often fails to respond to conventional treatments and relief of nausea, vomiting, and other side effects of drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, increasing the chances of patients continuing on life-saving treatment regimens. Specifically, in February 2010, the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research released a lengthy report that summarized 15 recent studies clearly demonstrating marijuana’s medical efficacy for a broad range of conditions. These studies, many of which were double blind, placebo-controlled trials, included neuropathic pain trials published in the Journal of Pain, Neuropsychopharmacology and Neurology, a study on the analgesic efficacy of smoked marijuana published in Anesthesiology, a study on the mechanisms of cannabinoid analgesia in rats published in Pain, and a study on vaporization as a “smokeless” marijuana delivery system published in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics.
(c) Marijuana has many currently accepted medical uses in the United States, having been recommended by thousands of licensed physicians to at least 350,000 patients in states with medical marijuana laws. Marijuana's medical utility has been recognized by a wide range of medical and public health organizations, including the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the American College of Physicians, the American Nurses Association, the American Public Health Association and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
(d) Data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports and the Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics show that approximately 99 out of every 100 marijuana arrests in the U.S. are made under state law, rather than under federal law. Consequently, changing state law will have the practical effect of protecting from arrest the vast majority of seriously ill patients who have a medical need to use marijuana.
(e) Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Washington have removed state-level criminal penalties from the medical use of marijuana. Delaware joins in this effort for the health and welfare of its citizens.
(f) States are not required to enforce federal law or prosecute people for engaging in activities prohibited by federal law. Therefore, compliance with this chapter does not put the State of Delaware in violation of federal law.
(g) State law should make a distinction between the medical and nonmedical uses of marijuana. Hence, the purpose of this chapter is to protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, as well as their physicians and providers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties, and property forfeiture if such patients engage in the medical use of marijuana.
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