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College Physicians Argue for Legalization of MMJ


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Washington - The idea that marijuana can be good for your health is being supported by a position paper released by the American College of Physicians (ACP), the largest group of internal medicine doctors in the United States.
The paper supports the use of medicinal marijuana as an effective medicine to deal with side effects of chemotherapy treatments and symptoms like HIV-related weight loss and pain from glaucoma.

Tim Kelly, president of the UW chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said the federal government has spent too many years ignoring evidence that points toward the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

The federal government claims there is no scientific evidence that says marijuana is useful for those suffering from life threatening diseases, terminal illnesses, or both, Kelly said.

Under federal law marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug and is grouped with narcotics such as heroin and crystal methamphetamine. Both drugs are highly addictive and neither have been shown to have any medicinal value.

"For too long the federal government, specifically the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), has stated that there are no acceptable medical uses of marijuana," Kelly said.

David C. Dale, a UW professor of internal medicine and the president of ACP, argued for a change in government policy.

"We have recommended that the classification be changed," he said. cause

To date, Washington is one of 12 states that allow the use of medical marijuana. However, those who are prescribed the drug are not safe from federal prosecution.

ACP believes there should be an exemption from federal prosecution for physicians and pharmacists who prescribe and/or sell medicinal marijuana and for the patients who use it, Dale said. Under the current federal laws an offender can receive up to five years in prison for possessing 100 kilograms of marijuana and up to 10 years for 1,000 kilograms.

Those caught with less than 15 grams of marijuana face paying a fine of $100 or more.

The report released by the ACP is an important step in the movement NORML has been working toward, Kelly said.

"I think the report that the ACP released asking the federal government to lift its restrictions on research and accessibility to medical marijuana is a great tool in our fight for medical marijuana," he said.

According to the ACP report, research expansion has been hindered by a complicated federal approval process, the limited availability of research-grade marijuana and the debate over legalization.

"The irony to it all is that the DEA severely limits who can legally obtain marijuana for research, causing the problem of little scientific evidence," Kelly said.

Source: The Daily of the University of Washington (WA)
Copyright: 2008 The Daily of the University of Washington
Contact: editor@thedaily.washington.edu
Website: The Daily of the University of Washington
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