Legalizing Marijuana for Medical Purposes
Submitted by: Council of District Residents, Ethics Committee,
and Committee on Preserving the Rights of HIV Infected Persons
Whereas Marijuana is a Schedule I drug, which means that it cannot be legally used as a medicine by patients or prescribed by physicians; and Whereas Schedule I drugs must meet all of the following criteria: 1) have no therapeutic value, 2) are not safe for medical use, and 3) have a high abuse potential; and Whereas Virginia nurses have an understanding a) of the negative health consequences that substance abuse and/or addiction can cause, b) that substance abuse and addiction are not about "bad" drugs, but rather about the unhealthy use of drugs, and c) that persons can develop a substance abuse or addiction problem from any psychoactive drugs, legal or illegal; and Whereas Marijuana has been found to be effective in a) reducing intraocular pressure in glaucoma, b) reducing nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, c) stimulating the appetite for persons living with AIDS and suffering from wasting syndrome, d) controlling spasticity associated with spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis, and e) controlling seizures associated with seizure disorders; and Whereas Marijuana has a wide margin of safety for use under medical supervision and cannot cause lethal reactions; and Whereas Thirty-six states, including Virginia, have recognized marijuana's therapeutic potential and have passed legislation supporting its medicinal use; and Whereas The Drug Enforcement Agency's (DEA) own Administrative Law Judge ruled in 1988 that marijuana must be removed from the Schedule I category and made available for physicians to prescribe; and Whereas Desperate patients and their families have chosen to break the law in order to obtain this medicine when conventional medicines have not been effective or are too toxic. This places these patients at risk for criminal charges and at risk for obtaining contaminated medicines because of the lack of quality control; and Whereas Nurses have an ethical obligation to be advocates for health care for all individuals. Medicines which enhance the quality of life for persons suffering from life threatening or debilitating illness; therefore, be it Resolved That the Virginia Nurses Association support all reasonable efforts to end federal policies which prohibit or unnecessarily restrict marijuana's legal availability for legitimate medical uses; and be it Resolved That the Virginia Nurses Association provide education to the nurses of Virginia on the therapeutic use of marijuana and the federal prohibition of its use; and be it Resolved That the Virginia Nurses Association ecourage other health care provider organizations to support medical access to marijuana; and be it Resolved That the Virginia Nurses Association submit a resolution to the American Nurses Association House of Delegates in 1995 that the American Nurses Association educate American nurses about the therapeutic use of marijuana and the federal prohibition of its use; and be it Resolved That the Virginia Nurses Association submit a resolution to the American Nurses Association House of Delegates in 1995 that the American Nurses Association support a change in federal policy to permit medical access to marijuana for therapeutic purposes.