February 18, 2008
Doctor Group Endorses Medical Marijuana
The American College of Physicians (ACP) issued a new policy statement this week endorsing medical marijuana use. The group is urging the government to reverse its ban on medical treatments using marijuana.
"ACP encourages the use of nonsmoked forms of THC (the main psychoactive element in marijuana) that have proven therapeutic value," the new policy statement said.
The group also advocates research into other therapeutic uses of marijuana.
The Philadelphia-based organization, the second largest doctors group in the United States, cited studies into marijuana's medical applications such as treating severe weight loss associated with illnesses such as AIDS, and treating nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy for cancer patients.
The ACP said the government should weigh marijuana's status as a schedule I controlled substance, alongside such drugs as LSD and heroin, given scientific evidence of marijuana's safety and efficacy for some medical conditions.
The new policy further called for exempting doctors who prescribe or dispense marijuana for medicinal purposes in accordance with state law from federal criminal prosecution. It also recommends that patients who use medical marijuana as permitted under state laws be protected from criminal penalties. Currently, 12 states have laws allowing the use of medical marijuana, but supporters of medicinal marijuana use say the federal government is undercutting state laws through Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids of medical marijuana providers.
David Murray, chief scientist for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, told Reuters, "The science should be kept open. There should be more research. We should continue to investigate."
Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which supports legal and regulated marijuana sales, told Reuters, "This statement by America's second-largest doctors group demolishes the myth that the medical community doesn't support medical marijuana. 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."
"The richness of modern medicine is to carefully evaluate new treatments. Marijuana has been in a special category because of, I suppose, its abuses and other concerns," Dr. David Dale, the group's president and a University of Washington professor of medicine, said in a Reuters telephone interview.
"Additional research is needed to clarify marijuana's therapeutic properties and determine standard and optimal doses and routes of delivery. Unfortunately, research expansion has been hindered by a complicated federal approval process, limited availability of research-grade marijuana and the debate over legalization," the group said in a news release announcing the new policy.
On the Net:
American College of Physicians (ACP)
The American College of Physicians full report "Supporting Research into the Therapeutic Role of Marijuana" can be viewed at http://www.acponline.org/advocacy/where_we_stand/other_issues/medmarijuana.pdf.