Second Largest Doctors' Group Supports Medical Marijuana.
124,000-Member American College of Physicians Urges Review of Marijuana's Legal Status, End to Federal Prosecutions.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The American College of Physicians, the largest medical specialty organization and the second largest physician group in the United States, today issued a strong statement urging a fundamental rethinking of U.S. government policy on medical marijuana, stating, "ACP strongly urges protection from criminal or civil penalties for patients who use medical marijuana as permitted by state laws."
ACP's position paper specifically criticized the federal classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, deemed by the government as not having accepted medical uses or safety for use under medical supervision.
"ACP urges review of marijuana's status as a Schedule I controlled substance and reclassification into a more appropriate schedule, given the scientific evidence regarding marijuana's safety and efficacy in some clinical conditions," the statement declared.
Founded in 1915, ACP publishes "Annals of Internal Medicine", the most widely cited medical speciality journal in the world.
"This is a historic statement by one of the world's most respected physician groups, and shows the growing scientific consensus that marijuana is a safe, effective medicine for some patients, including many battling life-threatening illnesses like cancer and AIDS," said former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders. "Large medical associations move cautiously, and for the American College of Physicians to note 'a clear discord' between scientific opinion and government policy on medical marijuana is a stinging rebuke to our government. It's time for politicians and bureaucrats to get out of the way of good medicine and solid research."
"This statement by the American College of Physicians recognizes what clinicians and researchers have been seeing for years, that for some patients medical marijuana works when conventional drugs fail," said Dr. Michael Saag, director of the Center for AIDS Research at the University of Alabama Birmingham. "One of the challenges in HIV/AIDS treatment is helping patients to adhere to drug regimens that may cause nausea and other noxious side effects. The relief of these side effects that marijuana provides can help patients stay on life-extending therapies."
"This statement by America's second largest doctors' group demolishes the myth that the medical community doesn't support medical marijuana," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. "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. 124,000 doctors have just said what our government refuses to hear, that it makes no medical or moral sense to arrest the sick and suffering for using medical marijuana."
The full ACP statement on medical marijuana, titled, "Supporting Research into the Therapeutic Role of Marijuana," is available at www.acponline.org/acp_news/medmarinews.htm
Currently, 12 states -- Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington -- permit seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana without fear of arrest. Signatures have been filed for a medical marijuana ballot initiative for the November ballot in Michigan, and medical marijuana legislation is either under consideration or expected to be introduced shortly in numerous states, including Minnesota and Illinois.
With more than 23,000 members and 180,000 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 http://MarijuanaPolicy.org .