AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION OPPOSES MARIJUANA LEGALISATION; SUPPORTS HEALTH-FIRST APPROACH TO MARUIJUANA USE
Largest medical group in the US explicitly rejects calls to become “neutral” on legalization; supports full funding of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; calls for proper study of Colorado and Washington policies. It joins the American Psychiatric Association, who issued a statement last week outlining the public health harms of marijuana.
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD-The delegates at the 2013 Interim Meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates, in National Harbor, Maryland, today voted to pass a resolution on marijuana, “Council of Science & Public Health Report 2 in Reference Committee K,” explicitly opposing marijuana legalization — fending off a challenge to “neutralize” their position. The report changes H-95.998 AMA Policy Statement on Cannabis to read in part that: “Our AMA believes that (1) cannabis is a dangerous drug and as such is a public health concern; (2) sale of cannabis should not be legalized.”
“The AMA today reiterated the widely held scientific view that marijuana is dangerous and should not be legalized,” commented Dr. Stuart Gitlow, Chair-Elect of the AMA Council on Science and Health and SAM Board Member. “We can only hope that the public will listen to science — not ‘Big Marijuana’ interests who stand to gain millions of dollars from increased addiction rates.”
Additionally, the report called for several provisions consistent with Project SAM’s marijuana pillars, including efforts to “discourage cannabis use, especially by persons vulnerable to the drug’s effects and in high-risk situations…support the determination of the consequences of long-term cannabis use through concentrated research, especially among youth and adolescents… support the modification of state and federal laws to emphasize public health based strategies to address and reduce cannabis use.”
“The American Medical Association took a bold step today, and they should be commended,” commented former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, SAM’s co-founder. “By explicitly rejecting calls to neutralize their anti-legalization position, they are sending a loud and powerful message to state and local decision makers, the Federal government, and the general public that to be on the side of science is to oppose efforts to expand marijuana use and addiction.”
Furthermore, several other elements in the report are consistent with SAM’s pillars, including calls to support: “the availability of and reduc[tion] (of) the cost of treatment programs for substance use disorders…a coordinated approach to adolescent drug education…community-based prevention programs for youth at risk to fund the Office of National Drug Control Policy… greater protection against discrimination in the employment and provision of services to drug abusers.” The report sums up much of these policy initiatives as a public health approach to marijuana use, which SAM wholeheartedly supports.
The AMA report follows an American Psychiatric Association position paper released last week, which concluded: “There is no current scientific evidence that marijuana is in any way beneficial for the treatment of any psychiatric disorder. In contrast, current evidence supports, at minimum, a strong association of cannabis use with the onset of psychiatric disorders. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to harm, given the effects of cannabis on neurological development.”
American Psychiatric Association Position on ‘Medical Marijuana’
– There is no current scientific evidence that marijuana is in any way beneficial for the treatment of any psychiatric disorder. In contrast, current evidence supports, at minimum, a strong association of cannabis use with the onset of psychiatric disorders. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to harm, given the effects of cannabis on neurological development.
– Further research on the use of cannabis-derived substances as medicine should be encouraged and facilitated by the federal government. The adverse effects of marijuana, including, but not limited to, the likelihood of addiction, must be simultaneously studied.
– Policy and practice surrounding cannabis-derived substances should not be altered until sufficient clinical evidence supports such changes.
– If scientific evidence supports the use of cannabis-derived substances to treat specific conditions, the medication should be subject to the approval process of the FDA.
Regarding state initiatives to authorize the use of marijuana for medical purposes:
– Medical treatment should be evidence-based and determined by professional standards of care; it should not be authorized by ballot initiatives.
– No medication approved by the FDA is smoked. Marijuana that is dispensed under a state-authorized program is not a specific product with controlled dosages. The buyer has no way of knowing the strength or purity of the product, as cannabis lacks the quality control of FDA-approved medicines.
– Prescribers and patients should be aware that the dosage administered by smoking is related to the depth and duration of the inhalation, and therefore difficult to standardize. The content and potency of various cannabinoids contained in marijuana can also vary, making dose standardization a challenging task.
– Physicians who recommend use of smoked marijuana for “medical” purposes should be fully aware of the risks and liabilities inherent in doing so. Item 2013A2 4.B Assembly November 8-10, 2013 Attachment #1
AUTHORS: Tauheed Zaman, M.D.; Richard N. Rosenthal, M.D.; John A. Renner, Jr., M.D.; Herbert D. Kleber, M.D.; Robert Milin, M.D.