Physicians Group Urges Easing of Ban on Medical Marijuana

—– Original Message —–
From: "Richard Lake" <rlake@mapinc.org>
To: <mmjlist@cannabismd.org>
Sent: Friday, February 15, 2008 5:11 AM
Subject: [mmjlist] US: Physicians Group Urges Easing of Ban on Medical
Marijuana

> URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v08.n179.a01.html
>
> Newshawk: http://www.cannabisnews.com/
> Pubdate: Fri, 15 Feb 2008
> Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
> Section: A
> Webpage: http://drugsense.org/url/0ptnlOs4
> Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Times
> Contact: letters@latimes.com
> Website: http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/
> Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/248
> Author: Eric Bailey, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
> Referenced: The American College of Physicians position paper
> http://drugsense.org/url/RTJp0V7l
> Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/mmj.htm (Marijuana – Medicinal)
>
> PHYSICIANS GROUP URGES EASING OF BAN ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA
>
> It Calls on the Government to Drop Pot’s Shared Classification With Drugs
> Such As Heroin and LSD That Are Considered to Have No Medicinal Value.
>
> SACRAMENTO — A large and respected association of physicians is calling
> on the federal government to ease its strict ban on marijuana as medicine
> and hasten research into the drug’s therapeutic uses.
>
> The American College of Physicians, the nation’s largest organization of
> doctors of internal medicine, with 124,000 members, contends that the long
> and rancorous debate over marijuana legalization has obscured good science
> that has demonstrated the benefits and medicinal promise of cannabis.
>
> In a 13-page position paper approved by the college’s governing board of
> regents and posted Thursday on the group’s website, the group calls on the
> government to drop marijuana from Schedule I, a classification it shares
> with illegal drugs such as heroin and LSD that are considered to have no
> medicinal value and a high likelihood of abuse.
>
> The declaration could put new pressure on Washington lawmakers and
> government regulators who for decades have rejected attempts to reclassify
> marijuana.
>
> Bush administration officials have aggressively rebuffed all attempts in
> Congress, the courts and among law enforcement organizations to legitimize
> medical marijuana.
>
> Clinical researchers say the federal government has resisted full study of
> the potential medical benefits of cannabis, instead pouring money into
> looking at its negative effects.
>
> A dozen states including California have legalized medical marijuana, but
> the federal prohibition has led to an enforcement tug of war.
>
> In California, federal agents continue to raid cannabis dispensaries, and
> the small cadre of physicians specializing in writing cannabis
> recommendations so that people can use medical marijuana has come under
> regulatory scrutiny.
>
> Given the conflicts, most mainstream doctors have steered clear of medical
> marijuana.
>
> The American College of Physicians’ position paper calls for protection of
> both doctors and patients from criminal and civil penalties in states that
> have adopted medical-marijuana laws.
>
> "We felt the time had come to speak up about this," said Dr. David Dale,
> the group’s president. "We’d like to clear up the uncertainty and anxiety
> of patients and physicians over this drug."
>
> Medical-marijuana advocates embraced the position paper as a watershed
> event that could help turn the battle in their favor.
>
> Bruce Mirken, a San Francisco spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project,
> said the ACP position is "an earthquake that’s going to rattle the whole
> medical-marijuana debate."
>
> The group, he said, "pulverized the government’s two favorite myths about
> medical marijuana — that it’s not supported by the medical community and
> that science hasn’t shown marijuana to have medical value."
>
> But officials at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
> said calls for legalizing medical marijuana were misguided.
>
> "What this would do is drag us back to 14th century medicine," said Bertha
> Madras, the agency’s deputy director for demand reduction. "It’s so
> arcane."
>
> She said guidance on marijuana as medicine ought to come from the U.S.
> Food and Drug Administration, which she said is unlikely ever to approve
> leafy cannabis as a prescription drug.
>
> Two oral derivatives of marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, THC, have won
> FDA approval, and the agency is also in the early stages of considering a
> marijuana spray.
>
> An FDA spokeswoman declined to comment on the group’s position and
> referred inquiries to a 2006 media advisory noting that the agency has
> never approved of smoked marijuana as a medical treatment
>
> In the 12 years since California voters approved the nation’s first-ever
> medical marijuana law, several medical organizations —
> including the American Nurses Assn. and the American Public Health
> Assn. — have urged Congress to make cannabis a legal medicine.
>
> But the ACP is second in size only to the American Medical Assn., which
> has about 240,000 members.
>
> The AMA has urged research into medical marijuana but opposes dropping it
> from Schedule I. Backers of the ACP’s position expressed hope that it
> could help nudge the AMA to adopt a similar stance.
>
> "This could be a sea change," said Dr. Abraham L. Halpern, a professor
> emeritus at New York Medical College.
>
> Halpern said he intends to petition the AMA to endorse rescheduling
> marijuana and to push for changes in federal regulations that would
> prevent federal anti-drug agencies — the U.S. Drug Enforcement
> Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse — from having
> virtual veto power over cannabis research.
>
> The ACP position paper urges the use of non-smoked forms of cannabis as
> well as further research to identify the illnesses best treated with
> cannabis and the proper dosages for specific conditions.
>
> It called for further research into cannabis as a pain reliever for
> conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and as an aid in treatment of
> neurological and movement disorders such as spasticity, pain and tremor in
> patients with multiple sclerosis, spinal-cord injuries and other trauma.
>
> But it cast doubt on marijuana’s efficacy for treating epilepsy and
> intraocular pressure caused by glaucoma, conditions that cannabis
> specialists in California routinely recommend be treated with pot.
>
> The biggest effect of the report could be symbolic.
>
> With a presidential campaign under way, the ACP’s stand could gain
> traction on the campaign trail or in a new administration.
>
> "It’s going to depend on how the wind is blowing — how we the people are
> thinking and reacting, where we stand on this," said Dr. Jocelyn Elders,
> U.S. surgeon general during the Clinton administration and a professor
> emeritus at the University of Arkansas School of Medicine.
>
> "I think we’ve come a long way in the last decade or so."
>
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