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Medical Marijuana Gets Boost From Herbal Products Lobbying Alliance

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MEDICAL MARIJUANA HERBAL PRODUCTS
The medical marijuana and herbal products industries have formed a lobbying alliance under the American Herbal Products Association. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File) | AP

WASHINGTON -- Following two years of collaboration with the medical marijuana industry, the American Herbal Products Association said Thursday that it was providing recommendations to state officials looking to regulate medical pot.

The American Herbal Products Association, founded in 1982 to represent botanical medicine companies, had not previously announced its alliance with medical marijuana and the trade organization Americans for Safe Access, which represents pot dispensaries and other elements of the industry.

The alliance gives medical marijuana a broader presence in Washington and a less controversial trade group to help it work the corridors of power. The American Herbal Products Association has reduced its lobbying and campaign giving in recent years, but has spent nearly $2 million lobbying since 1998.

A chief argument against marijuana as a medicine centers around its lack of approval by the Food and Drug Administration. On Wednesday, a judge rejected an effort to reclassify the drug, citing a lack of compelling evidence of its medical value.

Millions of people, however, attest to pot's medical benefits. Advocates said the association with other herbal and botanical treatments will help policymakers think of marijuana more rationally.

"The AHPA Cannabis Committee includes in its charter a responsibility to develop policy recommendations that support safe use of products derived from cannabis species," Michael McGuffin, American Herbal Products Association president, said in a statement. "This initial work should be well received by state regulators, who share our commitment to ensuring safe access to medical marijuana for their citizens."

Americans for Safe Access said decades of overseeing herbal product safety makes the the American Herbal Products Association uniquely qualified to apply that experience to medical marijuana.

The American Herbal Products Association said it has delivered recommendations to lawmakers in California, Massachusetts and Colorado.

Aaron Bycoffe contributed reporting

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