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Physician Group Urges Research On Marijuana


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Pennsylvania - The second largest group of physicians in the United States sees evidence that marijuana can relieve severe pain and supports its medicinal use, according to a recently issued position paper.

This paper from the Philadelphia-based American College of Physicians urges the federal government to acknowledge and sanction research into the plant's medicinal uses.

The federal government currently classifies marijuana as a drug with "no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision," according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy's Web site.

But a 1999 Institute of Medicine study - conducted at the ONDCP's behest - found that "scientific studies support medical use of marijuana for treatment in the United States."

The ACP paper "builds very substantially on that report," said ACP President David Dale. "We're just supporting good science."

In light of marijuana's scientifically demonstrated therapeutic properties, the ACP paper urges the government to reclassify the plant.

Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, lauded the ACP.

"They are pointing out some very important problems with government policy that have long needed to be pointed out," he said. "The federal government has essentially been lying to us."

Twelve states already allow marijuana to be used medicinally, and the ACP paper further advocates that the federal government not penalize physicians who prescribe medical marijuana - or patients who use it - as their state permits.

Many potential medicinal uses of cannabinoids, the chemical compounds that make up marijuana, may be yet undiscovered, according to the ACP paper. However, the authors say, research is often hampered by the federal government's refusal to acknowledge the medicinal properties of marijuana.

"Drug discovery is a very important part of modern society," Dale said.

Mirken agreed and added that scientists have already deemed marijuana a safe and effective pain reliever.

"So the ACP is asking the 21st-century questions, while our government is stuck in 1937," he said.

The ACP paper also calls for more research into the best dosage and mode of ingesting the herb, "for conditions where the efficacy of marijuana has been established."

Those conditions include loss of appetite, nausea, convulsions and extreme nerve pain - the kind suffered by victims of AIDS and multiple sclerosis.

According to Mirken, nerve pain is particularly resistant to the existing legal pain relievers. Those options "don't work for everybody, and they don't work for every condition," he said.

Source: Daily Pennsylvanian,The (U of PA, Edu)
Copyright: 2008 The Daily Pennsylvanian
Contact: letters@dailypennsylvanian.com
Website: The Daily Pennsylvanian
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