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November 11, 2009

AMA changes its position to be more open to medical marijuana

As detailed in this Los Angeles Times article, which is headlined "Medical marijuana gets a boost from major doctors group," on Tuesday the American Medical Association"urged the federal government to reconsider its classification of marijuana as a dangerous drug with no accepted medical use, a significant shift that puts the prestigious group behind calls for more research." Here are more details:

The nation's largest physicians organization, with about 250,000 member doctors, the AMA has maintained since 1997 that marijuana should remain a Schedule I controlled substance, the most restrictive category, which also includes heroin and LSD. In changing its policy, the group said its goal was to clear the way to conduct clinical research, develop cannabis-based medicines and devise alternative ways to deliver the drug.

"Despite more than 30 years of clinical research, only a small number of randomized, controlled trials have been conducted on smoked cannabis," said Dr. Edward Langston, an AMA board member, noting that the limited number of studies was "insufficient to satisfy the current standards for a prescription drug product."

The decision by the organization's delegates at a meeting in Houston marks another step in the evolving view of marijuana, which an AMA report notes was once linked by the federal government to homicidal mania. Since California voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 1996, marijuana has moved steadily into the cultural mainstream spurred by the growing awareness that it can have beneficial effects for some chronically ill people.

November 11, 2009 at 09:43 PM | Permalink

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Of course you have to read the whole article rather than snippets. Further down the page in this LA Times report, there appears this sentence: "The AMA...also adopted as part of its new policy a sentence that admonishes: 'This should not be viewed as an endorsement of state-based medical cannabis programs, the legalization of marijuana, or that scientific evidence on the therapeutic use of cannabis meets the current standards for a prescription drug product.'"

Oh, OK, so it's NOT an endorsement of legalization.

In fact, it's hardly a change at all. The AMA's prior position was that marijuana should remain illegal, at least until more reserch is done. The current version just pushes more explicitly for continuing research.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 11, 2009 11:55:19 PM

This group lent its name to Obamacare, and is a joke. It is fully infiltrated with Ivy indoctrinated, America Hater, Commie traitors. Nothing it says has any validity.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 12, 2009 12:12:27 AM

Bill, you seem to be arguing with yourself. Nobody said the AMA was endorsing medical marijuana.

Also, the AMA's new position is quite the change, since now it will be easier to study the effects of marijuana. I'm sure as you know, most of the initial studies have been positive, and it will be nice to see more money spent on researching the potential medicinal value of the plant. Likewise, it will be nice to see more research done to confirm that most of the conventional wisdom about marijuana smokers -- that they're lazy or dumb or dangerous -- has never been right.

Posted by: Anon | Nov 12, 2009 1:52:20 AM

Anon --

"Bill, you seem to be arguing with yourself."

It's not arguing at all to point to, and quote, a passage in the article that didn't make it into the snippets and that casts those snippets in a more circumspect light.

Could you specify the source for the assertion that "the conventional wisdom about marijuana smokers -- [is] that they're lazy or dumb or dangerous."?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 12, 2009 2:09:33 AM

Several weeks ago the Iowa Pharmacy Board held a hearing at the U. of Iowa Medical School focused on the question "Is cannabis a dangerous drug with no accepted medical use". Doctors and medical researchers were unanimous that cannabis was not dangerous but the evidence presented on the value of cannabis as a medicine was mixed. After to listening for about 90 minutes of presentations I thought the final conclusion would be that it was not dangerous and that it had limited medical use under special circumstances. If there is a change in the classification of cannabis it will have to be done by the legislature.

It is very costly to do all of the testing needed to qualify a drug as a prescription drug and the final legal drug (if approved) might cost the same or more than the illegal drug. If that turns out to be the case there would be no way to recover the cost of the testing.
At the present time there are some medical liability issues associated with the medical use of cannabis because of the side effects.

The medical cannabis users that testified in general wanted immunity from prosecution for possession and they also wanted a legal source of cannabis (one of them was beaten and robbed by people he thought were dealers).

I know a lot of retired doctors and they have a difficult time taking the medical use of cannabis seriously.

Posted by: John Neff | Nov 12, 2009 7:38:15 AM

Bill Otis,

I realized this near the end of the last big marijuana thread so I am not sure you saw it. There are in fact chemicals I believe should be controlled in their release. Antibiotics are perhaps the best example. I say this because the more such drugs are used the less effective they become for the entire population.

As far as I am aware the same is not true for chemotherapy, heart medications or recreational drugs.

I am not sure if there are other classes of drugs where the more they are used the less likely they are to be effective for the next patient, but if there are I would put them in that same category.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Nov 12, 2009 10:08:44 AM

The scientific evidence regarding the therapeutic use of cannabis is weak and likely growing more attenuated and suspect by the day. I have concerns about the rigor with which the state program in California is carried out. Is it sufficient for a 21 year old to try and game the system by complaining about nausea and vomiting to receive a script for medical marijuana. What documentation or testing, if any, is required.

Posted by: mjs | Nov 12, 2009 10:31:22 AM

"The scientific evidence regarding the therapeutic use of cannabis is weak . . . ." This is most certainly not true. There's not a huge body of evidence out there -- in part, because it has not been tested enough -- but the evidence we do have shows there is medicinal value in marijuana. No one is claiming marijuana is a miracle drug. (Or, if they are, there is no evidence to support what they're saying.)

And Bill, I'm not going to provide links to the numerous spoofs in pop culture that paint people who smoke weed in a bad light. I think you know that weed smokers are not seen as productive members of society by many.

Posted by: Anon | Nov 12, 2009 10:48:17 AM

Actually, I lied. I'll provide one such link: http://www.slate.com/id/2150334/. Didn't you used to work for the Office of National Drug Control? If not, who did you work for. It wouldn't surprise me if, with just a little bit of googling, I could find an ad your former organization made that furthers one of these myths.

Posted by: Anon | Nov 12, 2009 10:51:51 AM

Mr. Neff. And was once upon a time a large medical community that believed that the germ theory of disease could not possibly be true and it was a myth perpetuated by dangerous and radical men.

It's good to know that human beings haven't changed; there is nothing like a skeptical ignorance to get in the way of facts.

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 12, 2009 11:44:28 AM

Anon --

"Didn't you used to work for the Office of National Drug Control?"

No.

"If not, who did you work for."

Why I should hand out personal info to someone who signs himself "anon" is something of a mystery, wouldn't you say? But because I'm Mr. Nicey, I'll tell you anyway. For four years, I was Counselor to the head of the DEA. I have also held other jobs in the federal government, some high ranking and some not. For most of my career I was an AUSA in Alexandria, VA, under administrations of both parties.

"It wouldn't surprise me if, with just a little bit of googling, I could find an ad your former organization made that furthers one of these myths."

It's a free country, Mr. Anon. Enjoy your Googling.

"I'm not going to provide links to the numerous spoofs in pop culture that paint people who smoke weed in a bad light. I think you know that weed smokers are not seen as productive members of society by many."

I think you know that pop culture far more often depicts those vocally opposed to recreational drug use as a bunch of Puritanical old fogies, and those who enforce the CSA as Nazis.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 12, 2009 5:35:37 PM

Valid medicinal value, it’s a victimless crime, the War on Drugs WAY too costly, too many arrests for simple possession, tax it and use the money to pay for health insurance and to reduce the deficit…Need I say more?

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Posted by: RFWoodstock | Nov 13, 2009 10:10:08 AM

Marijuana can be very helpful for pain relief, as well as stimulating an appetite. Have they tried smoking up anorexic patients? I bet they'd instantly eat a feast!

Haha, but on a serious note I can't say whether or not marijuana should be used medicinally, but I do know it's a lot less damaging for your body than those terrible pain pills like hydrocodone, lortab, vicodin, etc.. Those will kill you after long term use, whereas marijuana will NOT, yet marijuana has an even better pain killing effect than the majority of them. So in my personal opinion, marijuana is a great painkiller for now while we work on making something less damaging than the current pain pills the doctor's prescribe. Probably not the best longterm solution, but it gets the job done and it won't destroy your liver, so anyone arguing against medical marijuana should either get unbrainwashed or do a little bit more research :P

Posted by: Brian | Dec 4, 2009 11:08:55 AM

Thank you for posting such useful and interesting information. It was encouraging to read all of this information, and know there's a group who has a clear head in all of this! Thanks again!"

Posted by: Erick | Aug 8, 2010 2:35:38 PM

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