GLAA asks DC Council to pass Marinol reclassification bill
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GLAA asks DC Council to pass Marinol reclassification bill

[Note: Letters like the following were sent to Councilmembers Sandra Allen, Sharon Ambrose, David Catania, Jack Evans, Charlene Drew Jarvis, Vincent Orange, and Kathleen Patterson.]

Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC
P.O. Box 75265
Washington, DC 20013-5265

March 21, 2000

Chairman Linda W. Cropp
Council of the District of Columbia
441 4th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Chairman Cropp:

Please vote in favor of bill 13-639, the “Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 2000.” The bill — sponsored by Harold Brazil and cosponsored by Councilmembers Chavous, Graham, Mendelson and Schwartz — reclassifies the drug Marinol from schedule II to schedule III, non-narcotic controlled substances, consistent with federal guidelines.

Marinol is an artificial form of THC, the active chemical in marijuana. Marinol is generically known as dronabinol. The FDA has approved Marinol for treatment of nausea in cancer chemotherapy patients and anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with AIDS (also known as wasting syndrome).

In July 1999, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration reclassified Marinol from Schedule II to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule III is the typical schedule for prescription drugs.

The DEA action does not affect DC law. In order to assist doctors and patients in treating debilitating nausea, the DC Code needs to be updated to move Marinol from § 33-516 (1)(G) to § 33-518(a)(4). So far, 22 states have reclassified Marinol.

Rescheduling of a drug from Schedule II to Schedule III relieves patients, physicians and pharmacists from several imposed restrictions. Once DC reschedules Marinol to be consistent with Federal guidelines, it should be easier for patients to receive this medication. It can mean less paperwork for physicians to prescribe Marinol, more convenience for patients to have their prescription phoned-in, and one prescription can be refilled for up to five months without any problems.

The DEA found, consistent with the tests for schedule III in DC Code § 33-517, that (1) Marinol has a potential for abuse less than the substances listed in Schedules I and II; (2) Marinol is an FDA-approved drug and has currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and the District of Columbia; and (3) The abuse of Marinol may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

Bill 13-639 has been sent to the Committee on the Judiciary, but has not yet been scheduled for hearings. Please support the passage of this bill to provide better access to this important medicine for seriously ill patients.

Thank you,

Bob Summersgill, President
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC

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