ANAHEIM - The California Medical Association adopted official policy this week that recommends legalization and regulation of marijuana.The decision, officials said, was based on a white paper concluding physicians should have access to better research, which is not possible under current policy. The CMA is the largest physician group in California and the first statewide medical association to take this official position. "CMA may be the first organization of its kind to take this position, but we won't be the last. This was a carefully considered, deliberative decision made exclusively on medical and scientific grounds," said Dr. James T. Hay, CMA president elect. "As physicians, we need to have a better understanding about the benefits and risks of medicinal cannabis so that we can provide the best care possible to our patients." The CMA's board of trustees, a representative body of physician delegations across the state, adopted the policy without objection. The federal government currently lists cannabis as a Schedule I drug, restricting the research and ability to study marijuana. Part of the policy adopted by CMA emphasizes that the drug should be rescheduled in addition to being legalized. "There simply isn't the scientific evidence to understand the benefits and risks of medical cannabis," Dr. Paul Phinney, CMA board chair, said. Representatives for CMA said current medicinal marijuana may be effective but dosage amounts are not standardized and side effects "may not be tolerated." The CMA is also advocating for the regulation and evaluation of recreational marijuana. "We need to regulate cannabis so that we know what we're recommending to our patients," Phinney said. "Currently, medical and recreational cannabis have no mandatory labeling standards of concentration or purity. First, we've got to legalize it so that we can properly study and regulate it." "California has decriminalized marijuana, yet it's still illegal on a federal level," Dr. Hay said. "That puts physicians in an incredibly difficult legal position, since we're the ones ultimately recommending the drug."
********** Published: October 20, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 27