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Medical Marijuana: American Medical Association Calls for Review of Pot's Schedule I Status

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #608)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

In an historic shift, the country's largest physician group, the American Medical Association (AMA), has reversed its long-held position that marijuana has no medical value. The group instead adopted a new policy position on medical marijuana, calling for a review of marijuana's status as a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical use under the federal Controlled Substances Act. The AMA had previously recommended that marijuana be retained in Schedule I.

The AMA adopted a report drafted by the AMA Council on Science and Public Health (CSAPH) entitled, "Use of Cannabis for Medicinal Purposes," which affirmed the therapeutic benefits of marijuana and called for further research. "Short term controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis," the CSAPH report found.

"Our AMA urges that marijuana's status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods," the new policy says.

But the AMA goes on to say that it is not endorsing existing state medical marijuana programs.

Laying the groundwork for the AMA's shift in position was the adoption in June 2008 by the group's Medical Student Section of a resolution supporting reclassification of marijuana. Leading that effort was University of Washington medical student Sunil Aggarwal, who also played a role as a reviewer of the CSAPH report.

"It's been 72 years since the AMA has officially recognized that marijuana has both already-demonstrated and future-promising medical utility," said Aggarwal. "The AMA has written an extensive, well-documented, evidence-based report that they are seeking to publish in a peer-reviewed journal that will help to educate the medical community about the scientific basis of botanical cannabis-based medicines."

"This shift, coming from what has historically been America's most cautious and conservative major medical organization, is historic," said Aaron Houston, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, who attended the AMA meeting. "Marijuana's Schedule I status is not just scientifically untenable, given the wealth of recent data showing it to be both safe and effective for chronic pain and other conditions, but it's been a major obstacle to needed research."

The AMA lagged behind one of its competitors. In February 2008, a the American College of Physicians (ACP), the country's second largest physician group and the largest organization of doctors of internal medicine, adopted a resolution calling for an "evidence-based review of marijuana's status as a Schedule I controlled substance to determine whether it should be reclassified to a different schedule."

"The two largest physician groups in the US have established medical marijuana as a health care issue that must be addressed," said ASA Government Affairs Director Caren Woodson. "Both organizations have underscored the need for change by placing patients above politics."

And so the pressure mounts.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Steve CDC (not verified)

Marijuana as a symbol of a threatened Republic.

I would call this an historic "McCarthy" moment in life of the United States of America. "Have you no shame, Senator?" For anyone who has an understanding of the physiological affects of marijuana with objective parity regarding "legal" substances such as tobacco and alcohol this is a long time coming victory for sanity and science.

Many corporate interests such as pharmaceutical industries, alcohol and tobacco producers, timber and petrochemical industries would prefer marijuana remain a Schedule 1 substance, but not for the benefit of our country. It is time for rational legislation and we the people, by and large, know it.

Fri, 11/13/2009 - 11:37am Permalink
JoAnn Florence… (not verified)

We need to do something for the benefit of OUR county for once!
We need to put the laws to the pople and get our rights back. For
the adults especially after all most of us our adults. Alot of us choose
not to drink or do other prescription drugs . Please, let's put and end
to hursts money and do what is right! There is no use for Marijuana
to be on the Controlled S ubstances Act, we should be growing trees
to help save our world!

Fri, 11/13/2009 - 1:38pm Permalink
Crispyfried (not verified)

Maybe if the government closes the border (and the flow of pot ha) they will find a way to financially benefit from medical marijuanna. I believe that is the main reason for dragging this (legal status) out. I find it absolutely insane that alcohol is so readily available and pot is SO punishable by law. You can get a drink around any corner while driving your car. But oh, driving under the influence is illegal.

All thinking people should know how our court system alone would benefit from easing up on the "war on drugs". Just think of all the resources that could be freed up by decriminalizing marijuanna. It makes me insane just thinking about the absurdity of the marijuanna laws.I believe most mainstream people already know the benign yet healing power of this weed. All of the debate over this issue is null and void because there is enough research on marijuanna done by our own government already on file. Why can't we just all be adults about this and just fess up with the truth? Marijuanna is probably more benign than many of the pharmaceutical [sp] drugs that are forced on us today.

Fri, 11/13/2009 - 3:35pm Permalink

This is great news for responsible users and activists around the US and the world. Hopefully other agencies will begin doing legitimate and unbiased research on the benefits of marijuana now. There is no reason for marijuana to be in the same class as hard drugs and we need more people like Dr. Sunil to psuh the AMA and the government to end this war on pot. We sell glass pipes and Glass Bubblers in a small shop and we hear from people all the time about the benefits of marijuana and I don't think any of them would classify pot as a class 1 substance. Thank you Dr. Aggarwal for your hard work on marijuana research for the past ten years.

Thu, 11/19/2009 - 1:01am Permalink

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