The American Medical Association voted today to reverse its long-held position that marijuana be retained as a Schedule I substance with no medical value.
The AMA adopted a report drafted by the AMA Council on Science and Public Health (CSAPH) entitled, “Use of Cannabis for Medicinal Purposes,” which affirmed the therapeutic benefits of marijuana and called for further research.
The CSAPH report concluded that, “short term controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.” Furthermore, the report urges that “the Schedule I status of marijuana be reviewed with the goal of facilitating clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods.”
The change of position by the largest physician-based group in the country was precipitated in part by a resolution adopted in June of 2008 by the Medical Student Section (MSS) of the AMA in support of the reclassification of marijuana’s status as a Schedule I substance. In the past year, the AMA has considered three resolutions dealing with medical marijuana, which also helped to influence the report and its recommendations. The AMA vote on the report took place in Houston, Texas during the organization’s annual Interim Meeting of the House of Delegates. The last AMA position, adopted 8 years ago, called for maintaining marijuana as a Schedule I substance, with no medical value.
“It’s been 72 years since the AMA has officially recognized that marijuana has both already-demonstrated and future-promising medical utility,” said Sunil Aggarwal, Ph.D., the medical student who spearheaded both the passage of the June 2008 resolution by the MSS and one of the CSAPH report’s designated expert reviewers. “The AMA has written an extensive, well-documented, evidence-based report that they are seeking to publish in a peer-reviewed journal that will help to educate the medical community about the scientific basis of botanical cannabis-based medicines.” Aggarwal is also on the Medical & Scientific Advisory Board of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the largest medical marijuana advocacy organization in the U.S.
The AMA’s about face on medical marijuana follows an announcement by the Obama Administration in October discouraging U.S. Attorneys from taking enforcement actions in medical marijuana states. In February 2008, a resolution was adopted by the American College of Physicians (ACP), the country’s second largest physician group and the largest organization of doctors of internal medicine. The ACP resolution called for an “evidence-based review of marijuana’s status as a Schedule I controlled substance to determine whether it should be reclassified to a different schedule. “The two largest physician groups in the U.S. have established medical marijuana as a health care issue that must be addressed,” said ASA Government Affairs Director Caren Woodson. “Both organizations have underscored the need for change by placing patients above politics.”
Though the CSAPH report has not been officially released to the public, AMA documentation indicates that it: “(1) provides a brief historical perspective on the use of cannabis as medicine; (2) examines the current federal and state-based legal envelope relevant to the medical use of cannabis; (3) provides a brief overview of our current understanding of the pharmacology and physiology of the endocannabinoid system; (4) reviews clinical trials on the relative safety and efficacy of smoked cannabis and botanical-based products; and (5) places this information in perspective with respect to the current drug regulatory framework.”
Executive Summary of AMA Report: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/AMA_Report_Executive_Summary.pdf
Recommendations of AMA Report: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/AMA_Report_Recommendations.pdf
American College of Physicians resolution: http://www.acponline.org/advocacy/where_we_stand/other_issues/medmarijuana.pdf
– Article from Opposing Views.
AMA Calls for Review of Medical Marijuana’s Legal Status
by Marijuana Policy Project
In a move considered historic by supporters of medical marijuana, the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates today adopted a new policy position calling for the review of marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug in the federal Controlled Substances Act.
The old language in Policy H-95.952 had previously recommended that “marijuana be retained in Schedule I,” which groups marijuana with drugs such as heroin, LSD and PCP that are deemed to have no accepted medical uses and to be unsafe for use even under medical supervision.
The revised policy, adopted today, states, “Our AMA urges that marijuana’s status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods.” It goes on to explain that this position should not be construed as an endorsement of state medical marijuana programs.
“This shift, coming from what has historically been America’s most cautious and conservative major medical organization, is historic,” said Aaron Houston, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, who attended the AMA meeting. “Marijuana’s Schedule I status is not just scientifically untenable, given the wealth of recent data showing it to be both safe and effective for chronic pain and other conditions, but it’s been a major obstacle to needed research.”
Drugs listed in Schedule II, for which medical use is permitted with strict controls, include cocaine, morphine and methamphetamine. A pill containing THC, the component responsible for marijuana’s “high,” is classed in Schedule III, whose looser requirements allow phoned-in prescriptions.
With more than 26,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit http://MarijuanaPolicy.org.
– Article from Common Dreams.