Chicago, IL: Cannabis provides therapeutic relief for patients and should be reclassified by the federal government to allow for its legal use as a prescription medicine, according to a commentary in the August 17 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
"Sound regulation of medical marijuana requires government oversight based on public health, a rigorous research agenda, a private physician-patient relationship, and respect for patients who seek relief from suffering," the commentary states. "A first step would be to reclassify marijuana as a schedule II drug because, like the schedule II substances cocaine and morphine, it fits well within the statutory definition of having ... 'a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions.' This would allow for medical prescriptions subject to strict regulation without unduly interfering with federal drug policy. ... The public can make a distinction between a drug of abuse and a drug prescribed by a physician for a compassionate purpose."
The commentary further argues that the federal classification of cannabis as a Schedule I prohibited drug needlessly obstructs investigators from conducting clinical research of the plant's medical properties. "To objectively answer the questions about the safety and efficacy of marijuana, the federal government must be open to the results of scientific research," it states. "Yet research has been sporadic, with the federal government posing multiple hurdles to scientists."
The commentary concludes: "The data suggest that marijuana may offer respite for some patients - a position supported by patient experiences and physician opinions. The 'drug war' metaphor does not justify an ideology that removes hope from patients when they are most vulnerable and in need."
The American Medical Association (AMA) has Previously_Called for "adequate and well-controlled studies of smoked marijuana [to] be conducted in patients who have serious conditions for which preclinical, anecdotal, or controlled evidence suggests [that cannabis holds] possible efficacy," but has yet to take a formal position in favor of the plant's rescheduling.
For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the commentary, "Medical marijuana, American federalism, and the Supreme Court," appears in the August 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.