Tuesday, November 10, 2009

American Medical Association Votes to Have Marijuana's Status as Schedule I Reviewed

AMA Report Recognizes Medical Benefits of Marijuana, Urges Further
Largest and oldest U.S. physician-based group reverses long-held
position on medical marijuana

Houston, TX -- The American Medical Association (AMA) voted today to
reverse its long-held position that marijuana be retained as a Schedule
I substance with no medical value. 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. The CSAPH report
concluded that, "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." Furthermore,
the report urges that "the Schedule I status of marijuana be reviewed
with the goal of facilitating clinical research and development of
cannabinoid- based medicines, and alternate delivery methods."

The change of position by the largest physician-based group in the
country was precipitated in part by a resolution adopted in June of 2008
by the Medical Student Section (MSS) of the AMA in support of the
reclassification of marijuana's status as a Schedule I substance. In the
past year, the AMA has considered three resolutions dealing with medical
marijuana, which also helped to influence the report and its
recommendations. The AMA vote on the report took place in Houston, Texas
during the organization' s annual Interim Meeting of the House of
Delegates. The last AMA position, adopted 8 years ago, called for
maintaining marijuana as a Schedule I substance, with no medical value.

"It's been 72 years since the AMA has officially recognized that
marijuana has both already-demonstrate d and future-promising medical
utility," said Sunil Aggarwal, Ph.D., the medical student who
spearheaded both the passage of the June 2008 resolution by the MSS and
one of the CSAPH report's designated expert reviewers. "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." Aggarwal is also on the Medical & Scientific
Advisory Board of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the largest medical
marijuana advocacy organization in the U.S.

The AMA's about face on medical marijuana follows an announcement by the
Obama Administration in October discouraging U.S. Attorneys from taking
enforcement actions in medical marijuana states. In February 2008, a
resolution was adopted by the American College of Physicians (ACP), the
country's second largest physician group and the largest organization of
doctors of internal medicine. The ACP resolution called 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 U.S. 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."

Though the CSAPH report has not been officially released to the public,
AMA documentation indicates that it: "(1) provides a brief historical
perspective on the use of cannabis as medicine; (2) examines the current
federal and state-based legal envelope relevant to the medical use of
cannabis; (3) provides a brief overview of our current understanding of
the pharmacology and physiology of the endocannabinoid system; (4)
reviews clinical trials on the relative safety and efficacy of smoked
cannabis and botanical-based products; and (5) places this information
in perspective with respect to the current drug regulatory framework."

Further information:

Executive Summary of AMA Report:
http://AmericansFor SafeAccess. org/downloads/ AMA_Report_ Executive_ Summary\

Recommendations of AMA Report:
http://AmericansFor SafeAccess. org/downloads/ AMA_Report_ Recommendations. p\

American College of Physicians resolution:
http://www.acponlin e.org/advocacy/ where_we_ stand/other_ issues/medmariju a\

# # #

With over 30,000 active members in more than 40 states, Americans for
Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of
patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens
promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and
research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating
policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and
researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots
actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.


Kris Hermes
Media Specialist
Americans for Safe Access
www.SafeAccessNow. org
1322 Webster Street, Suite 402
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: 510-251-1856 x307
Fax: 510-251-2036
Email: kris@SafeAccessNow. org

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