×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Medical Marijuana Advocates Say Federal Action Is Necessary

WASHINGTON — The patchwork of states that have legalized medical marijuana — now 29 and Washington D.C. — still leaves patients facing difficult decisions, like legal action or the threat arrest.

That’s why medical marijuana advocates believe that federal action is ultimately necessary, given the gaps in legality and the need to cross state lines.

This was one of the issues at a Brookings Institute and Variety-sponsored screening of “The Life She Deserves: Medical Marijuana in the United States,” followed by a panel. The project is Brookings’ first foray into documentary filmmaking, this time by personalizing an issue that otherwise would have been explained via a study or white paper.

The movie, directed by George Burroughs and John Hudak, looks at the case of Jennifer Collins, a Virginia teenager whose family struggled to find some kind of treatment for her epileptic seizures. Pharmaceuticals proved to have debilitating side effects and be of limited effectiveness, until Collins’ family found significant progress with the use of a liquid form of marijuana.

“This story is so similar to so many different people,” Collins said at the event. “I feel like I need to share it for the others [as much as] I can.”

For a time, she and her mother, Beth Collins, moved to Colorado, where such use was permitted, to get access to the medication, but fought to return to their home in Virginia by becoming activists in the legalization campaign.

Virginia’s General Assembly approved the use of cannabis oil for medical purposes, and Beth Collins said that one of the keys to changing minds was telling their personal stories.

“We met with the most difficult legislators that we could, first, because we knew if we could change their mind, the others would follow. The same is true federally,” she said. “You just have to keep going in with your story. Our story is not just our story. It is thousands and thousands of stories and you have to keep telling them.”

Problems remain, however. Jennifer Collins is about to graduate from high school, but said that she has found difficulty in finding a college or university that has accepted the use of medical cannabis.

Hudak said that even though the “changes in stigma have been dramatic,” and support for policy reform is “highly addictive right now in the United States Congress,” the movement for change on Capitol Hill is “probably not there yet.”

“A lot of people are standing in the way,” he said. “These gatekeepers are doing a damn good job making sure that the war on drugs continues.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he said, is “one of the biggest enemies to cannabis reform in the United States.”

Hudak attributes this in part to their generation. Even though there is overwhelming support for medical marijuana, the view that some lawmakers will pay a political price for legalization “never goes away for some members.”

Burroughs said that is why “I think we are going to have to do it in the states first, because that is where the pressure is going to come, through representatives.”

Voters in Missouri and Utah are likely to vote on ballot initiatives this November, Hudak said.

Even with more states moving to legalize marijuana, questions will remain over issues like interstate commerce.

“The more stories that are told, I think that members of Congress are waking up to the realities that this is much more complex than a hands off, state’s rights issue, that a federal solution is absolutely necessary,” he said.

(Pictured: John Hudak and Jennifer Collins)

The panel discussion is here, and the complete movie is below.

More Politics

  • Roger Stone, longtime advisor to President

    Judge Orders New Hearing With Roger Stone After Instagram Post

    WASHINGTON — U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has ordered a hearing for Thursday to consider whether to modify her limited gag order on Roger Stone, or to even revoke the the conditions of his release, in light of his Instagram post in that featured a photo of her with the symbol of a rifle [...]

  • Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), speaks during

    Bernie Sanders Announces 2020 Presidential Run

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced he would again run for president, promising in an interview Tuesday on “CBS This Morning” that that “we’re gonna win.” Sanders aggressively challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016, and his focus on economic populism has helped shift the party leftward, as is evident as the field of [...]

  • Donald Trump

    Trump Rails Against 'SNL,' Again, And Suggests 'Retribution' for NBC

    WASHINGTON — President Trump once again took aim at “Saturday Night Live,” suggesting that there should be a price to pay by TV networks for delivering such scathing satire. “Nothing funny about tired Saturday Night Live on Fake News NBC! Question is, how do the Networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without [...]

  • Roger Stone (L), longtime advisor to

    Judge Places Gag Order on Roger Stone Case

    WASHINGTON — A federal judge imposed a gag order on Roger Stone’s legal proceedings that places some limitations on what he, his lawyers, and other parties say about the case. Stone, a longtime associate of President Donald Trump, was arrested last month after special counsel Robert Mueller brought charges that he misled the House Intelligence Committee [...]

  • Donald Trump

    Trump Declares National Emergency Because of ‘Invasion’ at Border

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency to secure funding to build a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, a move that is certain to provoke a constitutional legal challenge. In a speech at the Rose Garden at the White House, Trump said, “we are talking about an invasion of our country.” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content