Medical Marijuana Gets A Boost From Major Doctors Group


The American Medical Assn. on Tuesday 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. 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 he**in and L*D.

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. This year, the Obama administration sped up that drift when it ordered federal narcotics agents not to arrest medical marijuana users and providers who follow state laws. Polls show broadening support for marijuana legalization.

Thirteen states allow the use of medical marijuana, and about a dozen more have considered it this year. The AMA, however, 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.”

The association also rejected a proposal to issue a more forceful call for marijuana to be rescheduled. Nevertheless, marijuana advocates welcomed the development. “They’re clearly taking an open-minded stance and acknowledging that the evidence warrants a review. That is very big,” said Bruce Mirken, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project. “It’s not surprising that they are moving cautiously and one step at a time, but this is still a very significant change.”

Advocates also noted that the AMA rejected an amendment that they said would have undercut the medical marijuana movement. The measure would have made it AMA’s policy that “smoking is an inherently unsafe delivery method for any therapeutic agent, and therefore smoked marijuana should not be recommended for medical use.” Dr. Michael M. Miller, a psychiatrist who practices addiction medicine, proposed the amendment. “Smoking is a bad delivery system because you’re combusting something and inhaling it,” he said.

Reaction from the federal government was muted. Dawn Dearden with the Drug Enforcement Administration said: “At this point, it’s still a Schedule I drug, and we’re going to treat it as such.” The Food and Drug Administration declined to comment. In a statement, the office of the White House drug czar reiterated the administration’s opposition to legalization and said that it would defer to “the FDA’s judgment that the raw marijuana plant cannot meet the standards for identity, strength, quality, purity, packaging and labeling required of medicine.”

The DEA classifies drugs into five schedules, with the fifth being the least-restrictive. Schedule II drugs, such as cocaine and morphine, are considered to have a high potential for abuse, but also to have accepted medical uses. Several petitions have been filed to reschedule marijuana. The first, filed in 1972, bounced back and forth between the DEA and the courts until it died in 1994. A petition filed in 2002 is under consideration.

Kris Hermes, a spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, said that advocates hoped the petition would receive more attention. “Given the change of heart by the AMA, there is every opportunity for the Obama administration to do just that,” he said. In a report released with its new policy, the AMA notes that the organization was “virtually alone” in opposing the first federal restrictions on marijuana, which were adopted in 1937. Cannabis had been used in various medicinal products for years, but fell into disuse in the early 20th century. Sunil Aggarwal, a medical student at the University of Washington, helped spark the AMA’s reconsideration after he researched marijuana’s effect on 186 chronically ill patients. “I had reason to believe that there was medical good that could come from these products, and I wanted to see AMA policy reflect that,” he said.

The AMA is not the only major doctors organization to rethink marijuana. Last year, the American College of Physicians, the second-largest physician group, called for “rigorous scientific evaluation of the potential therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana” and an “evidence-based review of marijuana’s status as a Schedule I controlled substance.” Last month, the California Medical Assn. passed resolutions that declared the criminalization of marijuana “a failed public health policy” and called on the organization to take part in the debate on changing current policy.

News Moderator – The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Author: John Hoeffel
Contact: Los Angeles Times – California, national and world news –
Website: Medical marijuana gets a boost from major doctors group – Los Angeles Times


  1. Just what we need…these parasites who have sat on their hands over this medicine for 75 years. Why aren’t they writing the curriculum into their Medical Schools? Because they are nothing but a charade along with the doctors they degree. Quackery.

  2. Why am I not surprised the rejected amendment condemning cannabis drug delivery through smoking was written by an addiction medicine Doc Michael Miller. The addiction medicine types have nothing of value to add to this debate; the abuse liability of cannabis is old news, many operate within a biased and obsolete paradigm, and have little to no contact with so many people out there suffering from chronic painful conditions who don’t get relief from conventional treatment. And kudos to Sunil Aggarwal, the cannabis researcher whose work helped enlighten the AMA.


  4. In this video Howard Samuels demonstrated the kind of rudeness so consistent with anti-cannabis crusaders. He repeatedly talked over the moderator though he definitely softened his staunch position as the interview progressed. He had no choice because the arguments Dr. Gupta made were too practical and logical to continue with his previously (uneducated) hard line response.

    He was previously against any reclassification of cannabis at all. Now he’s in support of decriminalization which is a good thing if he’s true to what he said. It was hard to nail fathom what his position really is. It seemed to shift according to the context but without warning.

    Problem is at the end of the interview the only stance he could take and not look like a complete idiot was to revert to “it should be decriminalized”. Also his assertion regarding all the addicts he’s treated for “addiction to cannabis” seemed not to capture the much larger demographic of cannabis users who’ve been able to quit easily and without withdrawal symptoms.

    Only 9 percent of those who’ve used cannabis experience any kind of addiction. I’m aware of several other studies that clearly indicate that the addiction experienced by that 9 percent is mainly psychological in nature and not physically addictive like morphine and heroin.

    When Samuels claims that these people he’s been treating for cannabis addiction really are addicted — the fact is they’d be addicted to something else if cannabis was not available. Most likely they’d be alcoholics or pill poppers which is far more debilitating than cannabis. Also when he claims that these addicts are proof that it should not be legalized he’s drawn a conclusion that cannabis is addictive.

    The reality is that it is not the substance itself that actually causes the addiction. it is the abuse of the drug (not the use) that causes the addiction.

    Therefore unless you eradicate cannabis from planet earth altogether (probably impossible) you cannot get lasting results for anyone unless you discover and disarm the triggers that got them abusing substances in the first place. Most likely they already have a psychological problem that they are seeking medication (relief) for.

    Therefore when Samuels makes the logical fallacy that “anyone whose been involved in long term use of cannabis suffer from emotional problems” I’d suggest that there is every probability that the people who seek medication are trying to solve a psychological problem in the first place. Therefore why would anyone be surprised at finding long term users of cannabis that have emotional problems?

    It is very likely that they have a pre-existing condition they started medicating with cannabis to get relief from. Most likely unresolved emotional pain. Cannabis does reduce the effect of emotional pain but it does not get at the cause. If the addict does not come to terms with the cause of their need to “feel better” they will probably remain addictive in their personality.

    Among abusers it’s guaranteed that a percentage of them (if not all of them) sought medication for a problem (physical or psychological) that was not being helped by other means. Cannabis may not have solved their problems but it gave them relief.

    That almost guarantees addiction because unresolved pain left untreated will resurface in any number of ways. If it’s physical discomfort perhaps cannabis will be the only drug that gives relief. Sometimes you can’t even eliminate physical pain through amputation of the offending digit. Therefore lifelong use of cannabis may be the only option for some people.

    Like the consumption of any drug, once prescribed, it is an experiment. Neither you nor the doctor know if the drug will work until you try it. The same is true with cannabis. If cannabis treatments were known, familiar, and moderated through a licensed practitioner then at least someone of a professional nature is keeping tabs on both your consumption and your results. I think that kind of setting allows for a far more mature and reasonable approach to treatment than we’ve got now.

    Also the extreme naivety of Samuels to state that people smoke cannabis to get loaded. He’s so outdated in his thinking that he’s failed to realize that the “high” people get from smoking it is frequently a necessary part of the treatment. If pot didn’t make people high it would not be useful in treating conditions where people need to “forget” things in order to get relief.

    For example treatment of PTSD or migraines treated with cannabis would not have any hope of working without the short term psychosomatic effect it has to make people forget. Anyone who’s used it for a medical condition knows that the euphoria and general increase in alpha brainwaves that cannabinoids are known for is all part of the treatment and a main benefit of taking it.

    Imagine someone trying to use cannabis for a mood disorder like depression and/or anxiety. How on earth can the drug do anything good for a mood disorder if there is no high or sense of feeling better? Why have doctors decided that the best treatment for a condition should never make the patient high? What if that’s the most effective way to treat mood disorders is to have a drug that diminished the hyper-vigilant brainwave states so prevalent with PTSD, anxiety, and depression and moves them into a more alpha, relaxed, pleasant state than the frightful state they were in just previous.

    If you’re a chronic worrier why should you be afraid to try a drug that stops your worrying because it makes you feel a lot better? The reason people get loaded on any drug is to to feel better. Why then do we recoil at the idea of people getting high if they are not in any danger (and getting relief) by so doing?

    Actually many people who take cannabis say that they do so to feel normal. It is a fact that being high on cannabis is the only functioning state that some patients will experience and we’ve still got a government that is more afraid of it’s subjects feeling better by using cannabis than it is of the effect on your society by putting millions in prison every year whose only crime was wanting medication for a condition that doctors have not been able to treat.

    It is as if the general public has been brainwashed into believing that it is wrong to use a drug to change your psychological state. These people are well reflected in Samuels himself. He’s rude, talks over top of the host, won’t listen to the host but loudly and obnoxiously yells his points to drown out the both moderator and his medical colleague. Clearly he has some social impairment or he’d be more respectful of the dialog and more scientific in his (currently dogmatic) approach to this.

    Take note that Samuels personality itself appears to be suffering from some kind of disorder himself. It is as if he believes he needs to yell, shout, and be rude in order for people to listen. I’ve never met anyone that defensive and obnoxious that their behavior didn’t point straight to a personality disorder of some sort.

    Also his point about “it needs to be illegal so that our kids won’t get it”. Again he’s completely in the dark about legalization and the surrounding issues. In any school environment pot has already become easier to obtain while attending grade school than cigarettes, alcohol, or other prescription drugs.

    Making it legal is not going to make it easier to access because it is unlikely that the majority of voters would ever be want it to be legal for use by children for whom there are studies that suggest pot smoking impairs brain development.

    Therefore if Samuels hopes to be successful in his crusade against it I find it hard, having listened to his irrational rationale, to believe that he even understands the issues except through the lens of his livelihood which pays him well to get addicts free. He’s got a lot to lose by legalization because the social stigma would be one less pressure that users would have to contend with. Often times people develop aberrant behaviors simply because (in order to take the drug) they are forced to go against a taboo that has had over 70 years in the making.

    A taboo that says you are inferior and a social outcast because you dared take a drug that makes you high. That is enough to attract people who are predisposed to addictive tendencies. There is enough guilt in that situation to be an addictive persons dream. Addicts thrive on guilt. If they don’t have some behavior they can feel guilty about they will search harder until they find the appropriate one. If cannabis is legalized I’d estimate that the percentage of addicts will drop for that one reason if not for many other reasons as well.

    But there’s always hope. Perhaps Samuel’s will decide to make a documentary and he too will discover his hypocrisy while doing real research. I loved the “moral equivalence” comment by Dr. Sanjay and I appreciated his attempt to understand Samuel’s position as Samuels is rather unreadable due to the emotionally disruptive state he was in during this interview.