State Doctors Group’s Call for Cannabis Legalization Slammed

The leader of a Rancho Cucamonga-based group that has been fighting all marijuana legalization efforts is blasting the California Medical Association recommendation to decriminalize and regulate marijuana.

Proponents at the 35,000-member California Medical Association say proper research after decriminalization would result in data that doctors need to prescribe precise dosages, and to better understand the chemical compounds that may be helping treat illnesses.

Physicians, they say, should have access to better research not possible under current federal drug policy.

But critics, like Paul Chabot, president of the Coalition for a Drug Free California, said the CMA recommendation would harm society.

“Research has shown marijuana use has been linked to testicular cancer, schizophrenia, and depression,” Chabot said. “It’s because of so-called medical marijuana, we now have the highest use-rate for kids in America.”

Chabot, who said his group has more than 1,000 members, called on doctors to tear up their CMA membership cards “in light of leadership’s pro drug legalization stance.”

“What an irresponsible and unethical position the CMA has taken,” Chabot said. “This flies in the face of science, public health and common sense. It now appears drug money has reached some of this organization’s more influential leaders.”

Marijuana, or cannabis, is currently listed as a Schedule I drug by the federal government, a classification that restricts the ability to research and gather data about the substance, said Steven Larson, chairman of the CMA board and a Riverside physician.

“There simply isn’t the scientific evidence to understand the benefits and risks of medical cannabis,” said Paul Phinney, CMA president-elect and former board chairman. “We undertook this issue a couple of years ago and the report presented this weekend is clear – in order for the proper studies to be done, we need to advocate for the legalization and regulation.”

Larson said cannabis may have some efficacy for patients with chronic conditions and that doctors should be able to provide the proper dosage.

“You have to know the dosage effect of what you are prescribing and the problem is there are variations on the strength of the product,” he said. “There is no research to back up the dosages.”

The policy recommendation was adopted without objection at the CMA board meeting Friday in Anaheim.

Larson hopes Washington policy-makers take up the recommendation next year, but he said he doesn’t expect anything soon because of the ongoing national budget policy debate.

Marijuana suppliers, Larson said, are opposed to the CMA recommendation.

“If the state were to take over regulation and make the product available for medicinal use, then it might affect their sales,” Larson said. “It might take away their ability to charge whatever they want.”

– Article originally from The San Bernardino Sun.

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