Medical Assn. Calls for Legalization of Marijuana
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Medical Assn. Calls for Legalization of Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on October 15, 2011 at 19:44:45 PT
By Anthony York, Los Angeles Times
Source: Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Sacramento -- The state's largest doctor group is calling for legalization of marijuana, even as it pronounces cannabis to be of questionable medical value.Trustees of the California Medical Assn., which represents more than 35,000 physicians statewide, adopted the position at their annual meeting in Anaheim late Friday. It is the first major medical association in the nation to urge legalization of the drug, according to a group spokeswoman, who said the larger membership was notified Saturday.
Dr. Donald Lyman, the Sacramento physician who wrote the group's new policy, attributed the shift to growing frustration over California's medical marijuana law, which permits cannabis use with a doctor's recommendation. That, he said, has created an untenable situation for physicians: deciding whether to give patients a substance that is illegal under federal law."It's an uncomfortable position for doctors," he said. "It is an open question whether cannabis is useful or not. That question can only be answered once it is legalized and more research is done. Then, and only then, can we know what it is useful for."The CMA's new stance appears to have as much to do with politics as science. The group has rejected one of the main arguments of medical marijuana advocates, declaring that the substance has few proven health benefits and comparing it to a "folk remedy."The group acknowledges some health risk associated with marijuana use and proposes that it be regulated along the lines of alcohol and tobacco. But it says the consequences of criminalization outweigh the hazards.Lyman says current laws have "proven to be a failed public health policy." He cited increased prison costs, the effect on families when marijuana users are imprisoned and racial inequalities in drug-sentencing cases.The organization's announcement provoked some angry response."I wonder what they're smoking," said John Lovell, spokesman for the California Police Chiefs Assn. "Given everything that we know about the physiological impacts of marijuana — how it affects young brains, the number of accidents associated with driving under the influence — it's just an unbelievably irresponsible position."The CMA's view is also controversial in the medical community.Dr. Robert DuPont, an M.D. and professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School, said the association's call for legalization showed "a reckless disregard of the public health. I think it's going to lead to more use, and that, to me, is a public health concern. I'm not sure they've thought through what the implications of legalization would be."Dr. Igor Grant, head of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis at UC San Diego, defended the drug's therapeutic use."There's good evidence that it has medicinal value," he said. "Can you say it's 100% bulletproof? No. But the research we've done at the center shows it's helpful with certain types of pain."The federal government views cannabis as a substance with no medical use, on a par with heroin and LSD. The CMA wants the Obama administration to reclassify it to help promote further research on its medical potential.But Washington appears to be moving in the other direction. As recently as July, the federal government turned down a request to reclassify marijuana. That decision is being appealed in federal court by legalization advocates.In recent weeks, the Obama administration has begun cracking down on California's medical marijuana industry, threatening to prosecute landlords who rent buildings to pot dispensaries.California's marijuana laws have eased over the last 15 years. State voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, decriminalizing it for medicinal purposes. Federal law still prohibits the sale or possession of the drug for any reason.The CMA opposed Proposition 215, and it argues that doctors have been placed unwillingly in the center of the feud over the drug."When the proposition passed, we as an organized medical community got thrown into the middle of this issue, because the posture of the proposition and its proponents found that cannabis is a medicinal product that is useful for a long list of specific ailments," Lyman said.The state has since softened its laws on even recreational use of the drug. In 2010, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill that reclassified possession of less than an ounce from a misdemeanor to an infraction.At the same time, the number of marijuana dispensaries was skyrocketing, to between 1,000 and 2,000 statewide, according to estimates by law enforcement officials. In January, the Los Angeles City Council set strict limits on pot outlets, ordering the closure of hundreds of them.Opinion polls show that state voters continue to be in favor of medical marijuana but are divided on the question of total legalization. A recent survey by the Public Policy Institute of California found 51% opposed to complete legalization and 46% in favor.Last November, California voters rejected Proposition 19, which would have legalized the possession and cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis and permitted local governments to regulate it and tax sales. The CMA took no public position on the measure, its leaders said.Across the country, physicians have called for more cannabis-related research. The CMA's parent organization, the American Medical Assn., has said the federal government should consider easing research restrictions.Meanwhile, Lyman said, "there is considerable harm being done."Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)Author: Anthony York, Los Angeles TimesPublished: October 16, 2011Copyright: 2011 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #23 posted by FoM on October 19, 2011 at 10:25:55 PT
He was playing the devil's advocate. He does it very well. 
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Comment #22 posted by afterburner on October 19, 2011 at 09:26:41 PT
Comments #19-21
One thing that I found to be extremely strange was when Dylan Ratigan asked Dr. Christopher Gleen Fichtner about vested interests regarding the effect of legalization on the prisons. The question implied that the need for prisoners should trump legalizing cannabis. Extremely strange! Was Dylan Ratigan serious or just playing devil's advocate and being ironic to point to the absurdity of the prison industry's position? 
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Comment #21 posted by Totalrod2 on October 17, 2011 at 21:00:32 PT
We've already hit the 50% point. :-)
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Comment #20 posted by FoM on October 17, 2011 at 14:18:56 PT
We just watched it too and we thought it was really good.
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Comment #19 posted by ekim on October 17, 2011 at 14:07:53 PT
Dylan Ratigan Show on dir tv ch 356--4pm
just had on the author of Cannibinomics -- great look at
how tipping point for cannabis debate is taking 
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Comment #18 posted by afterburner on October 17, 2011 at 10:13:37 PT
Thank You, Doctors, for Uprising
Commonsense #9 
"But we now have no friends
In-a high society"
We and Dem - Bob Marley like the doctors in Cali are moving beyond Bob Marley's lament.
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Comment #17 posted by museman on October 17, 2011 at 09:04:37 PT
and this one
the inglorious state of amerika
Dead White And Blue
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Comment #16 posted by museman on October 17, 2011 at 08:55:53 PT
to the establishment
and those who support it; song "Not the way you think it is."and this one; "They Don't need love." -last song on this juke.and this one;"Don't forget war." 1st on the album "Dead White and Blue"and this one;"Face Down In The Mud." -8th in the playlistand this one; "Now here it is" right after.and this one;"World of Illusion."And just about all the rest of them....The time has come.LEGALIZE FREEDOM
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Comment #15 posted by Oleg the tumor on October 17, 2011 at 07:11:25 PT:
East Coast Still in the dark Re: Call from CMA
Those of you on the west coast should know that this earthshaking news has no legs or wheels here in the east. You'd think that there would be some references to it even in passing. Its Monday 10Am on the east coast right now. I've been searching for news stories, but a strange silence lingers, methinks a little too long. Somebody look out the window quick! Are they arresting doctors?
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Comment #14 posted by Oleg the tumor on October 16, 2011 at 12:22:49 PT:
And this years Award for Field Proctology goesTo:
Chief chief John Lovell, for his valuable Paper publishedrecently in The California Penal System Press on Full Body Cavity Search Techniques. His other valuable contributions in this field include numerous cell phones, an incredible amount of condoms wrapped around any manner of contraband and lectures at physicians, all with the same familiar smell.
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Comment #13 posted by HempWorld on October 16, 2011 at 11:22:16 PT
"The Schedule I classification of cannabis has contributed to several public policy dilemmas."Yes and the highly illogical and un-scientific and politically motivated nature of the CSA, the Controlled Substances Act, has led to utter insane public policy such as protecting people from their own actions when it involves certain drugs and are then supposed to hurt you, such as Cannabis?! How about cigarettes or alcohol, respecitve No. 1 and 2 annual killers of the nation? 
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Comment #12 posted by HempWorld on October 16, 2011 at 10:59:47 PT
CMA is getting it:
Cannabis is a plant (“botanical”) known popularly as marijuana, which has medicinal
qualities and is also psychoactive. Federal law classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug
meaning it has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse and therefore
cannot be prescribed by physician for any use outside of research settings. That is, it is
“illegal” to prescribe this botanical. The Schedule I classification has limited research
on the potential therapeutic usefulness or potential risks of cannabis and its various
chemical components (cannabinoids, terpeniods and flavonoids).2 The Schedule I
classification of cannabis has contributed to several public policy dilemmas.
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Comment #11 posted by dongenero on October 16, 2011 at 10:56:32 PT
Dr. or spokesman for Police Chiefs?
Pretty comical when you have a spokesman for a Police Chiefs Assn. thinking they can lecture physicians on physiology.kooks. You'd think there would be a law against unqualified and unlicensed individuals issuing medial advice publicly.Hey, that'd be a good question for someone like ...a spokesman for the Police Chiefs Assn.
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Comment #10 posted by HempWorld on October 16, 2011 at 10:49:50 PT
CMA from Paper:
Cannabis and the Regulatory Void
Background Paper and Recommendations
California Medical Association
In 2010, the California Medical Association (CMA) House of Delegates ordered the formation of a technical advisory committee to recommend policy on marijuana [cannabis]1 legalization and appropriate regulation and education. The CMA Legalization and Taxation of Marijuana Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) found that the public movement toward legalization of medical cannabis has inappropriately placed physicians in the role of gatekeeper for public access to this botanical. Effective regulation is possible only if cannabis is rescheduled at the federal level.Policy Recommendation includes: “Reschedule” medical cannabis in order to encourage research lending to responsible regulation.Regulate recreational cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco.Tax cannabis Facilitate dissemination of risks and benefits of cannabis use. Refer for national action.Link:
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Comment #9 posted by Commonsense on October 16, 2011 at 10:46:07 PT
Sam Adams is right
Sam, you are absolutely right that doctors tend to be conservative. I don't know about them being flunkies for Big Pharma, but they're mostly Republican. They hate paying taxes, hate governemt programs that redistribute wealth, support tort reform specifically where it relates to caps on medical malpractice judgments and other measures making it harder to sue them. They're watching Fox News if they're watching the news and many of them get caught up in right wing ideology. I know lots of doctors.They also tend to be respected members of society. People look up to doctors, including their fellow right wing Republicans. These doctors, the majority of a group of 35,000 or so, aren't backing medical marijuana here, they're saying marijuana ought to be legal like alcohol because it's not that harmful and trying to keep up the ban does more harm than good. This is a very good thing because these aren't people on the fringe. They aren't "left wing nutjobs." They're respected members of society and their endorsement of legalization will make others on the right think about their positions on legalization. This is the kind of thing we need to see a lot more of, and we will see more of as support for legalization grows in the coming years. It's going to snowball as we hit the point where the polls are saying that better than 50% of Americans want pot legal like alcohol, and we should see polls coming back consistently with those results in the near future if the trend in legalization polls we've seen for the last twenty years continues. The growth in support might even speed up if we see more things like what we're reading in this article. We'll see more and more politicians, famous people, professional organizations, community leaders, etc., coming out in support of legalization as time goes on and support grows and they are no longer afraid of what it will do to their reputations, electability, business prospects, etc.
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Comment #8 posted by HempWorld on October 16, 2011 at 10:42:33 PT
Yea! From CMA's Website:
Amen!Paul Phinney, M.D., CMA Board Chair. “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.” 
The CMA Council on Scientific Affairs (CSA) developed a set of medical cannabis recommendation guidelines for physicians indicating the limited conditions for which the medical use of cannabis may be effective. Current literature is inadequate, cannabis dosage is not well standardized and side effects may not be tolerated. 
CMA’s newly adopted policy also advocates for the regulation and evaluation of recreational cannabis. 
“We need to regulate cannabis so that we know what we’re recommending to our patients,” Dr. Phinney said. “Currently, medical and recreational cannabis have no mandatory labeling standards of concentration or purity. First, we’ve got to legalize it so that we can properly study and regulate it.” 
Physicians, who are currently only allowed to “recommend” medical cannabis, have been stuck in an uncomfortable position, since California decriminalized the drug in 2006. 
“California has decriminalized marijuana, yet it’s still illegal on a federal level,” Dr. Hay said. “That puts physicians in an incredibly difficult legal position, since we’re the ones ultimately recommending the drug.” 
CMA advocates for the regulation of medical cannabis to allow for wider clinical research, accountable and quality controlled production of the substance and proper public awareness. The physician group also recommends the regulation of recreational cannabis so that states may regulate this more widely used cannabis for purity and safety. 
“Our physicians have looked at this issue closely and carefully over a significant period of time,” said Dustin Corcoran, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “After months of research and collaboration, they have chosen to adopt this forward thinking, medically sound policy that will only further their ability to properly treat patients.” 
Contact: Molly Weedn,       (415) 209-4217    or mweedn
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Comment #7 posted by Sam Adams on October 16, 2011 at 09:55:10 PT
and oh yes...
isn't it funny to see the police thugs directly criticizing medical experts! Cuts right to the heart of the police state. These uneducated meatheads control your health care - what are you going to do about it folks?
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Comment #6 posted by Sam Adams on October 16, 2011 at 09:53:46 PT
great milestone
this is oustanding news - the medical assn.'s are usually to the far right politically, really just flackies for Big Pharma. I think this is also really funny - this happened because the conservative docs couldn't stand the fact that their liberal brothers are prescribing cannabis.This move was made out of embarrassment!  These patriarchal docs want to eliminate ANY official ties to natural medicine or herbal medicine. 
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Comment #5 posted by RevRayGreen on October 16, 2011 at 09:40:16 PT
Dr. Dupont
is better known as Dr. D-Bag.....
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Comment #4 posted by HempWorld on October 16, 2011 at 09:32:40 PT
"I think it's going to lead to more use"
This is the often repeated lie! Empirical evidence points to the CONTRARY, see the Netherlands and more recently, Portugal. Nothing will become more popular than banned substances as, basically, these substances get free advertisement from the gov't, don't do ... and don't do ... and on and on.This is what happens when doctors play lawmaker and police play doctor.At least the California Medical Assn. seems to be wising up to reality!
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Comment #3 posted by ekim on October 15, 2011 at 21:15:08 PT
am with you FoM 
support HB 2306 to end Fed Cannabis Prohibitionsad to see someone i have long looked up to as being
a real MR. Moonbeam but alas the beam has lost its shine.
at a time when CA burries one of its finest dreamers-- with the stroke of a pen insures that CA will not be able to show the world what wonders will come from the Cannabis plant. Hemp Advocacy Groups Outraged by Governor Brown's Veto of California Industrial Hemp Farming Act
Veto of SB 676 is Huge Setback for California Farmers, Businesses and the Economy
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Comment #2 posted by Paint with light on October 15, 2011 at 21:01:23 PT
"The group acknowledges some health risk associated with marijuana use and proposes that it be regulated along the lines of alcohol and tobacco. But it says the consequences of criminalization outweigh the hazards."Legal like alcohol."I wonder what they're smoking," said John Lovell, spokesman for the California Police Chiefs Assn(As he inhales from an unfiltered camel cigarette). "Given everything that we know about the physiological impacts of marijuana(which is zilch) — how it affects young brains(We are talking about adult usage here, not kids), the number of accidents associated with driving under the influence(correlation is not causation) — it's just an unbelievably irresponsible position."The unbelievably irresponsible position is Lovell's."Dr. Robert DuPont, an M.D......"In this case M.D. stands for Mostly Defective. He has been making money off of prohibition for decades.Dr. Donald Lyman needs a copy of Granny's list.Here is a link to the latest bogus study about driving and cannabis use....I like the comments best on the USA today site. like alcohol.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on October 15, 2011 at 19:48:20 PT
I Agree Legalize Cannabis
It will be inexpensive and be more like the herbs that people use and buy from a health food store. People won't be seen as criminals then too. 
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