Pubdate: Sun, 17 Feb 2008
Source: West Australian (Australia)
Copyright: 2008 West Australian Newspapers Limited
Referenced: The American College of Physicians policy statement
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


A leading US doctors group has endorsed using marijuana for medical 
purposes, urging the US government to roll back a prohibition on 
using it to treat patients and supporting studies into its medical 

The American College of Physicians, the second largest doctors group 
in the United States, issued a policy statement on medical marijuana 
this week after it was approved by its governing body.

The group cited evidence that marijuana is valuable in treating 
severe weight loss associated with AIDS, and nausea and vomiting 
associated with chemotherapy in cancer patients.

"Additional research is needed to clarify marijuana's therapeutic 
properties and determine standard and optimal doses and routes of 
delivery. Unfortunately, research expansion has been hindered by a 
complicated federal approval process, limited availability of 
research-grade marijuana and the debate over legalisation," the group said.

The Philadelphia-based group, founded in 1915, is made up of 124,000 
doctors who treat adults.

"The richness of modern medicine is to carefully evaluate new 
treatments. Marijuana has been in a special category because of, I 
suppose, its abuses and other concerns," Dr David Dale, the group's 
president and a University of Washington professor of medicine, said.

David Murray, the White House Office of National Drug Control 
Policy's chief scientist, said, "The science should be kept open. 
There should be more research. We should continue to investigate."

The policy statement said, "ACP encourages the use of nonsmoked forms 
of THC (the main psychoactive element in marijuana) that have proven 
therapeutic value."

It also backed research into additional therapeutic uses of marijuana.

The US government should review marijuana's status as a so-called 
schedule I controlled substance, alongside such drugs as LSD and 
heroin, given scientific evidence of its safety and efficacy for some 
medical conditions, the doctors group said.

It called for exempting doctors who prescribe or dispense medical 
marijuana in accordance with state law from federal criminal 
prosecution and other actions. It also urged protection from criminal 
penalties for patients who use medical marijuana as permitted under state laws.

A dozen states have laws allowing the use of marijuana for medical 
purposes. But supporters of medical marijuana accuse the federal 
government of undermining those state laws by having Drug Enforcement 
Administration agents raid medical marijuana providers.

Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which 
urges legal and regulated sales of marijuana, said, "This statement 
by America's second-largest doctors group demolishes the myth that 
the medical community doesn't support medical marijuana."

"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," Kampia added. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake