Pubdate: Sun, 17 Feb 2008
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2008 Reuters
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

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