Physicians Group Urges Easing of Ban on Marijuana

Physicians Group Urges Easing of Ban on Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on February 14, 2008 at 19:17:14 PT
By Eric Bailey, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
Source: Los Angeles Times
Sacramento, CA -- 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 today 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 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 treatmentIn 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 also calls for study of new methods of dispensing the drug and scientific work to further isolate and synthesize the constituent chemicals that could pack the most medicinal value without unwanted side effects.While calling for more study, the ACP said marijuana already is scientifically proven be an effective appetite stimulant and anti-nausea drug for treatment of AIDS conditions and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. Cancer patients found the drug to be equivalent or superior to prescription anti-nausea drugs, the paper said."Given marijuana's proven efficacy at treating certain symptoms and its relatively low toxicity, reclassification would reduce barriers to research and increase availability of cannabinoid drugs to patients who have failed to respond to other treatments," the report said.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."Note: 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.Complete Title: Physicians Group Urges Easing of Ban on Medical MarijuanaSource: Los Angeles Times (CA)Author: Eric Bailey, Los Angeles Times Staff WriterPublished: February 14, 2008Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #23 posted by Dankhank on February 16, 2008 at 19:15:46 PT
them I did as Yoda might say ...
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Comment #22 posted by fight_4_freedom on February 15, 2008 at 15:05:03 PT:
Good Idea Storm Crow
Just sent mine.
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Comment #21 posted by Storm Crow on February 15, 2008 at 14:54:29 PT
We all reallty should send...
A big THANK YOU!  If we say nothing how will they know how MUCH we appreciate this recommendation? Email them today! 
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Comment #20 posted by fight_4_freedom on February 15, 2008 at 12:00:28 PT:
FoM #11 You're right
And this endorsement is like a gigantic stone being slung right into the eye of Goliath. 
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Comment #19 posted by Dankhank on February 15, 2008 at 11:18:28 PT
like your take on "acid."I've always believed it is a good thing that allows some serious introspection. For some, it's pretty tough going, suggesting that few should "go it alone."regardless, free the powerful ergoline.peace to all who educate ...
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Comment #18 posted by augustwest on February 15, 2008 at 10:44:28 PT:
Now is a unique time when we can bring this issue to the table since everybody wants to see the politicians squirm when asked to take a stance on anything contraversial. It used to be political suicide to appear soft on drugs but medical marijuana is now widely approved in public opinion. It could be suicide to come out against it. Everybody should try to make this an election issue and force candidates to declare clear stances on states rights and doctor patient privacy issues. Timing is everything. It's great this story is getting out there.
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Comment #17 posted by FoM on February 15, 2008 at 09:55:23 PT
Related Article From LAist
Doctors Pressure Government To Greenlight Medical MarijuanaFebruary 15, 2008
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on February 15, 2008 at 09:53:41 PT
Related Article From KCBS
Medical Marijuana Advocates React To Recommendation*** Friday, February 15, 2008 SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) - One of the nation's largest medical groups is urging the federal government to ease its ban on medical marijuana. Some doctors hope it could lead to more research into the possible therapeutic benefits of the drug. The American College of Physicians wants the government to drop marijuana from its Schedule One Classification, where it is listed with such drugs as heroin. "One more step towards legitimizing the industry and cannabis as medicine," a supportive Richard Lee, president of Oaksterdam University, which trains people to work at medical marijuana dispensaries, explained."I think it's great," echoed Oakland resident Angel Raich, who suffers from an inoperable brain tumor. She lost her fight over medical marijuana before the Supreme Court. "The federal government for years has claimed that there is no medical use to cannabis."The White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy calls the idea of legalizing medical marijuana misguided, arguing that the approval for marijuana as a medicine should come from the FDA.  KCBS' Janice Wright reports 
 Copyright 2008, KCBS
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Comment #15 posted by augustwest on February 15, 2008 at 09:21:04 PT:
Cannabis being reclassified is a no brainer but there is also medical value in LSD. I've known several heroin addicts and crackheads that were able to quit for good after using LSD during a time when they wanted to quit. I think the schedule 1 for both drugs was the result of nixon's war on hippies. 
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on February 15, 2008 at 08:59:36 PT
Related Article From 
Second Largest Doctors Group Supports Medical Marijuana***February 15, 2008 (Washington D.C.) The American College of Physicians, the largest medical specialty organization and the second largest physician group in the United States, today issued a strong statement urging a fundamental rethinking of U.S. government policy on medical marijuana, stating, “ACP strongly urges protection from criminal or civil penalties for patients who use medical marijuana as permitted by state laws.”ACP’s position paper specifically criticized the federal classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, deemed by the government as not having accepted medical uses or safety for use under medical supervision. “ACP urges review of marijuana’s status as a Schedule I controlled substance and reclassification into a more appropriate schedule, given the scientific evidence regarding marijuana’s safety and efficacy in some clinical conditions,” the statement declared.Founded in 1915, ACP publishes Annals of Internal Medicine, the most widely cited medical specialty journal in the world.“This is a historic statement by one of the world’s most respected physician groups, and shows the growing scientific consensus that marijuana is a safe, effective medicine for some patients, including many battling life-threatening illnesses like cancer and AIDS,” said former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders. “Large medical associations move cautiously, and for the American College of Physicians to note ‘a clear discord’ between scientific opinion and government policy on medical marijuana is a stinging rebuke to our government. It’s time for politicians and bureaucrats to get out of the way of good medicine and solid research.”“This statement by the American College of Physicians recognizes what clinicians and researchers have been seeing for years, that for some patients medical marijuana works when conventional drugs fail,” said Dr. Michael Saag, director of the Center for AIDS Research at the University of Alabama Birmingham. “One of the challenges in HIV/AIDS treatment is helping patients to adhere to drug regimens that may cause nausea and other noxious side effects. The relief of these side effects that marijuana provides can help patients stay on life-extending therapies.”“This statement by America’s second largest doctors’ group demolishes the myth that the medical community doesn’t support medical marijuana,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. “The ACP’s statement smashes a number of other myths, including the claims that adequate substitutes are available or that marijuana is unsafe for medical use. 124,000 doctors have just said what our government refuses to hear, that it makes no medical or moral sense to arrest the sick and suffering for using medical marijuana.”The full ACP statement on medical marijuana, titled, “Supporting Research into the Therapeutic Role of Marijuana,” is available at:, 12 states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — permit seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana without fear of arrest. Signatures have been filed for a medical marijuana ballot initiative for the November ballot in Michigan, and medical marijuana legislation is either under consideration or expected to be introduced shortly in numerous states, including Minnesota and Illinois.With more than 23,000 members and 180,000 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.orgCopyright: 2008 NewsLI.com
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on February 15, 2008 at 08:53:38 PT
Thank you. Being that we are David types puts things in perspective for me.
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Comment #12 posted by Hope on February 15, 2008 at 08:34:10 PT
"Bless these people!"
Amen to that, Sam.Good analogy, FoM. We are a little "David" up against a gigantic "Goliath", for sure. We certainly have the spirit of David. We can do this thing in spite of the odds. We are doing it. We have to do it. Grace be with us.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on February 15, 2008 at 07:59:53 PT
We only get flooded with smear articles about Cannabis but we are like David and we know what he did to Goliath.
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Comment #10 posted by Sam Adams on February 15, 2008 at 07:55:24 PT
great news
Wow, this is really encouraging! All is not lost with the doctors. This really restores my faith in the medical profession.  Bless these people! This will be a fantastic rebuttal to use every time the AMA comes up. Which is often. The immediate response to "The AMA is against it" will be, "oh yeah, well the ACP has endorsed both research and immediate patient access"No, of course it won't appear in mainstream media.
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on February 15, 2008 at 07:49:11 PT
A shiver and a chill....
"Let's hope it gets a lot more coverage by tonight."I do get a shiver and a chill when I think about that. A big police state able to spread the news they want spread and stifle the news they want stifled.They are the enemies of truth and the enemies of right.They are bedfellows with lies and with all that is wrong.They really don't know right from wrong.They are the enemies of freedom and hope.They are strangling people in daily seas of red tape and threats and promised and delivered cruelty.They feed us lies and hide the truth.
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Comment #8 posted by fight_4_freedom on February 15, 2008 at 07:24:56 PT:
Where's all the other articles citing
this big endorsement??? Within minutes of the gum disease study being released, every newspaper in the world came out with an article about it. I spotted one other besides the LA times piece for this huge endorsement. Let's hope it gets a lot more coverage by tonight.
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Comment #7 posted by charmed quark on February 15, 2008 at 06:34:45 PT
Volcano Vaporizer, ACP Approved
The ACP paper even mentions using the Volcano Vaporizer as a safe form of pulmonary administration.They did incorrectly, IMHO, say that the chronic smoking of cannabis increased the risk of cancer. Recent medical research seems to have raised strong doubts about that position.
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Comment #6 posted by Dankhank on February 15, 2008 at 04:45:29 PT
safer ...
agreed ...hear that prohibs ...?Pot is safer than aspirinlike that ...
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Comment #5 posted by Paint with light on February 14, 2008 at 23:37:51 PT
What century is this?
"What this would do is drag us back to 14th-century medicine."Marijuana was widely used as medicine in the last century.Does that make this the 15th century?Pot is safer than aspirin.
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Comment #4 posted by fight_4_freedom on February 14, 2008 at 21:14:54 PT:
The American College of Physicians
position paper is on line at:
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Comment #3 posted by Yanxor on February 14, 2008 at 20:22:10 PT
Funny how politicians thinks they know medicine better than the second largest medical organization in the US.
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Comment #2 posted by fight_4_freedom on February 14, 2008 at 19:28:42 PT:
What an endorsement for us
It'll be interesting to see how much the media actually reports this. I'm guessing very little. This is great news everyone!
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Comment #1 posted by charmed quark on February 14, 2008 at 19:23:44 PT
This is major
I'm caught by surprise by this. This will be hard to sweep under the rug. I'm curious has the AMA is going to respond to this.
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