Doctors: Ease Penalties for Medical Use, Research

Doctors: Ease Penalties for Medical Use, Research
Posted by CN Staff on February 16, 2008 at 05:18:42 PT
By John Sullivan, Inquirer Staff Writer
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer 
Philadelphia, PA -- In a move it hopes will spur research into medical uses of marijuana, the nation's second-largest physicians' group is calling on the government to ease criminal penalties for doctors who study and recommend the plant, and patients who smoke it. The American College of Physicians says several nonmedical factors - a fierce battle over legalization of the drug, a complicated approval process, and limited availability of research-grade marijuana - has hobbled scientists from looking into its full benefits.
"A clear discord exists between the scientific community and federal legal and regulatory agencies over the medicinal value of marijuana, which impedes the expansion of research," the Philadelphia-based organization states in a 13-page policy paper.A White House official dismissed the report yesterday as a "political act" that contained no new science, and noted that other doctors' organizations think differently.Researchers generally agree that there is some medicinal benefit to the drug. The policy paper reviews evidence that its psychoactive ingredient - tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC - is useful for the treatment of glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, nausea and pain.But the report also argues that marijuana in its raw form may be helpful in ways that THC alone is not. It explains, for example, how patients who experience nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy may prefer smoked marijuana's milder effects over those obtained from its active ingredient in approved pills.The paper was three years in coming, and the organization knew it would be controversial, said its president, David C. Dale, a Seattle internist and professor at the University of Washington."In terms of advocating for the public good and the good of medicine, this was the right thing to do," he said."We recognize that this is a drug that may be able to help and harm," he said, noting that medicines often work at that interface. "But the prejudices of the past shouldn't limit research into the good it can do."Of concern to many physicians is the patchwork of state laws on the issue, and federal agencies' power to prosecute them regardless, making physicians reluctant to pursue research."If it's permissible by state law, patients and physicians should not be guilty of a crime for marijuana and its uses," Dale said. To encourage study, the college wants the federal government to downgrade the drug from its status as a schedule 1 controlled substance - the same as heroin, crystal meth, LSD, and other drugs with no clear medicinal value.A dozen states - Pennsylvania and New Jersey are not among them - have approved the use of medical marijuana or offered some protection to patients. The Food and Drug Administration has also approved two medicines containing THC.Medical-marijuana advocates hailed the paper as a breakthrough. "This is 124,000 doctors that have just told the federal government they are wrong," said Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington group that lobbies for medical use of marijuana. "The question about whether this is useful has been studied, and it's time to move on and figure out how to use it."The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy said it changed nothing. "This is not medical science," said chief scientist David Murray. "This is a policy paper. A political act calling for political response.""It says, 'We want more research,' and we generally support more research as well." Murray noted that other medical organizations - the 240,000-member American Medical Association, the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society - do not support the smoked form of marijuana as medicine.He acknowledged that compounds in marijuana, mainly cannabinoids, have some value with certain illnesses, such as when treating neurological disorders or used as an analgesic.Research into those applications should be pursued, but drugs given to patients must be only isolated, purified compounds proven in clinical trials and approved by the FDA, Murray said. "Whatever it looks like, it will not be the raw, crude weed delivering a stew of chemicals that are demonstrably harmful and toxic." The American College of Physicians is hoping the paper will encourage the government to help science thoroughly investigate a plant that, after 40 years of study, researchers still know less about than they would like. Note: Phila. group prescribes new look at pot for U.S.Newshawk: Charmed quark Source: Philadelphia Inquirer (PA)Author: John Sullivan, Inquirer Staff WriterPublished: February 16, 2008Copyright: 2008 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.Contact: Inquirer.Letters phillynews.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Marijuana Policy Project Group Backs Marijuana for Medical Uses Group Urges Easing of Ban on Marijuana 
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Comment #3 posted by potpal on February 18, 2008 at 09:53:02 PT
in other words
Research into those applications should be pursued, but drugs given to patients must be only isolated, purified compounds proven in clinical trials and approved by the FDA, Murray said. "Whatever it looks like, it will not be the raw, crude weed delivering a stew of chemicals that are demonstrably harmful and toxic." Meaning, only if they protect the profits of pharmaceutical companies will cannabis ever be legal for people to use in one way or another. What does this have to do with cannabis/hemp used in industry, food and fiber? Why the prohibition there?
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Comment #2 posted by fight_4_freedom on February 16, 2008 at 11:16:55 PT:
Picketing Bill Clinton: Where is Jacki's Medicine?
Local activist, Ben Masel provided this account of picketing at Bill Clinton's appearance on Thursday.Just back from Bill Clinton's appearance at the historic Stock Pavilion on the University of Wisconsin Campus. When Gary Storck and I approached, we were directed across the street by the most polite pair of Secret Service agents I've ever dealt with, but, as it's a narrow street, not an unreasonable "Free Speech Zone."Our signs referred to Bill's encounter, as a Candidate, with Jacki Rickert of Mondovi, Wisconsin in 1992. Jacki had been approved for the federal medical marijuana program, but not yet admitted when Bush I closed the program to new admissions in 1989. She caught up with Bill in Osseo on his post-Convention Mississippi River bus tour. After she explained her odyssey through the federal bureaucracy, Bill "I feel your pain" promised "When I'm President, you'll get your medicine".
Complete Article
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Comment #1 posted by Storm Crow on February 16, 2008 at 09:23:00 PT
Don't forget to write them a "thank You" note't it be lovely if they were FLOODED with positive comments about their report? Get your friends to say "Thank you", too!
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