AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: ISSUES MARIJUANA GUIDELINES
Guidelines released Monday by the American MedicalThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Association (AMA) say "doctors should feel free to discuss
marijuana with their patients and even tell them when it might
help their conditions," USA TODAY reports. Under the AMA
guidelines, doctors "are urged to avoid any 'intentional' step to
help a patient obtain marijuana" and are "encouraged to tell
patients" that the drug is illegal. The AMA and the California
Medical Association (CMA) "are asking federal officials whether
they'll accept the guidelines and not penalize doctors who follow
them." CMA counsel Alice Mead said, "I have heard no objection
from the federal government thus far. I have no reason to
believe these guidelines are unacceptable." The guidelines were
sent to the Justice Department last week, USA TODAY reports.
COMMENTS: USA TODAY reports that the "guidelines were
hailed as a breakthrough by supporters of last year's medical
marijuana initiative." Marcus Conant, lead plaintiff in a class-
action suit filed by doctors after federal authorities threatened
to prosecute them if they "discussed or recommended the drug,"
said, "It's important because the AMA has articulated ... the
position that the federal government should get out of the
business of dictating doctor-patient relationships." John
Entwhistle, legislative advocate for Californians for
Compassionate Use, said the move "gives all doctors the green
flag" (Price, 3/18).
MORE AMA NEWS: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)
has provided the AMA with a $1.54 million grant to sound "'a
wake-up call' to every physician in the United States to improve"
end-of-life care. Rosemary Gibson, RWJF senior program officer,
said, "Every physician should have basic training in end-of-life
care. Clearly, all physicians should learn to recognize the
needs of dying patients, especially pain control, treat what is
within their skills and refer their patients to palliative care
specialists if it becomes necessary." The project will focus on
helping physicians work with patients in advanced care planning
and providing opportunities for doctors to increase their
palliative skills. The AMA will develop curricula for physician
training, conduct a "major" conference for medical leaders,
prepare nationwide mailings of educational materials and
establish a speakers' bureau of physician experts on end-of-life
care (RWJF release, 3/10).