updated 2/21/2007 7:18:46 PM ET 2007-02-22T00:18:46

Armed with a new study showing the drug can ease pain in some HIV patients, medical-marijuana advocates sued the federal government Wednesday over its claim that pot has no accepted medical uses.

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The lawsuit, filed in federal court by Americans for Safe Access, accuses the government of arbitrarily preventing “sick and dying persons from seeking to obtain medicine that could provide them needed and often lifesaving relief.”

The Food and Drug Administration’s position on medical marijuana “is incorrect, dishonest and a flagrant violation of laws requiring the government to base policy on sound science,” Joe Elford, said chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access.

Christina Pearson, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

California is one of 11 states that have made marijuana legal for people with a doctor’s recommendation. But because the U.S. government does not recognize pot’s medical benefits, federal authorities can still arrest patients.

Last week, researchers from the University of California at San Francisco reported in the journal Neurology that a test involving 50 HIV patients showed that those who smoked pot experienced much less pain than those given placebos.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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