Calif. Physician Group Adopts Policy Calling for Legalization of Marijuana
TrusteesÂ of CMA, which represents more than 35,000 physicians across the state, adopted the position atÂ their annual meeting.
According to a CMA spokesperson, the group is the first major medical association in the U.S. to urge legalization of the drug.
Background on Issue
In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, decriminalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. CMA opposed the measure.
Federal law prohibits the sale or possession of the drug for any purpose.
The Obama administration recently launched an effort to prosecute landlords in the state who rent buildings to medical marijuana dispensaries.
Details of CMA's Stance
CMA has argued that physicians unwillingly have been placed in the center of the debate over use of the drug.
Donald Lyman -- a physician from Sacramento who wrote CMA's new policy on marijuana -- said the decision is the result of growing frustration over the state's medical marijuana law that permits use of the drug with a physician recommendation. Lyman said physicians are forced to decide whether to provide patients with a substance deemed illegal by the federal government.
CMA also acknowledged that some health risks are associated with use of the drug and said it should be regulated like alcohol and tobacco. In addition, the association said that the consequences of criminalizingÂ marijuana outweigh possible hazards of using the drug.
Lyman said, "It is an open question whether cannabis is useful or not. That question can only be answered once it is legalized and more research is done."
Reaction to CMA's Stance
Robert DuPont -- a physician and professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School -- said CMA's call for legalization of marijuana shows a "reckless disregard of the public health." He said legalization would lead to more use of marijuana, which he said is a public health concern.
John Lovell -- a spokesperson for the California Police Chiefs Association -- said the position is "unbelievably irresponsible" because of "everything we know about the physiological impacts of marijuana," including its effects on developing brains and its association with automobile accidents (York, Los Angeles Times, 10/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.