(WASHINGTON, D.C. ) - In a unanimous vote, the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association has approved a strongly worded statement supporting legal protection for patients using medical marijuana with their doctor's recommendation.

"This is a very large and important medical organization, it isn't some fringe group," said Bruce Mirken from the Marijuana Policy Project.

He told Salem-News.com, "This move debunks a lot of the nonsense from some of the anti-medical marijuana groups. They have been aggressively using false information tactics. These groups allege that there are various links between mental illness and marijuana, ignoring the fact that it is well documented that medical marijuana can be therapeutic".

The APA action paper, which must be approved by the APA Board of Trustees when it meets in December, notes that 12 states now have medical marijuana laws, and states, "The threat of arrest by federal agents, however, still exists. Seriously ill patients living in these states with medical marijuana recommendations from their doctors should not be subjected to the threat of punitive federal prosecution for merely attempting to alleviate the chronic pain, side effects, or symptoms associated with their conditions or resulting from their overall treatment regimens. ... [We] support protection for patients and physicians participating in state approved medical marijuana programs."

This is not the first, but the second action paper calling on the government to facilitate "well-designed clinical research into the medical utility of marijuana" were adopted Saturday with no dissenting votes by the APA Assembly, which represents the group's 74 district branches and 16 allied professional organizations.

"This vote is a landmark, and a proud day for our profession." said Abraham L. Halpern, M.D., professor emeritus of psychiatry at New York Medical College and past president of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. "As physicians, we cannot abide our patients being subject to arrest and jail for using a physician-recommended treatment that clearly relieves suffering for many who are not helped by conventional treatments."

"This unanimous vote shows the growing acceptance of medical marijuana by organized medicine," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "Members of Congress who have opposed efforts to protect patients from federal prosecution have tried to portray medical marijuana as a fringe issue. But the APA Assembly vote, along with other recent endorsements including the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, shows that it's those who want to arrest the sick and suffering who are on the fringe."

With 40,000 members and 16 allied organizations (including the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Association for Social Psychiatry, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, and the American Association of Emergency Psychiatrists), the American Psychiatric Association is the main professional organization for psychiatrists in the United States.

Mirken says the the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association's trustees will vote on the matter in December.

With more than 23,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit MarijuanaPolicy.org.

If you found this interesting, check this article by Tim King published November 8th 2007: Study Shows Surprisingly Few Negative Impacts on Kids Who Use Marijuana


Related health article: Health News: American Medical Association
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Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with almost twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist and reporter. Today, in addition to his role as a war correspondent in Afghanistan where he spent the winter of 2006/07, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated only with Google News. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com