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Legalize Marijuana, CA Doctors Say

Staff Reporters |
October 15, 2011 | 9:44 p.m. PDT

Marijuana should become a legalized drug in the same way that alcohol is, the California Medical Association now says, according to the L.A. Times.

The association is the largest organization of California physicians. The change in stance on marijuana, decided late Friday, comes a week after the Obama administration decided to start cracking down on medical marijuana shops in California that were reaping huge profits despite needing to be non-profits under state law.

Marijuana use for medical purposes is legal in California, and any kind of use is prohibited by federal law.

The response from one of the state's law enforcement groups to the call from doctors was the classic, "What are they smoking?"

The medical association acknowledged the health risks that come with using marijuana and expressed skepticism that pot had any medical value. But the group says more testing needs to be done post-legalization. In the meantime, the consequences of banning it outweigh the risks of allowing it to be used like alcohol or tobacco, the group said.

A Scientific American article this week described the stalemate between the medical community and the federal government over making marijuana legal:

"Many medical cannabis proponents see a catch-22 in the U.S.’s marijuana control. One of the DEA’s reasons for keeping marijuana in Schedule I is that the drug does not have enough clinical trials showing its benefits. Yet the classification may limit research by making marijuana difficult for investigators to obtain.

Even as prospects for whole-plant marijuana research dim, those who study isolated compounds from marijuana—which incorporates more than 400 different types of molecules—have an easier time. The drug’s main active chemical, delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is already FDA-approved for nausea and weight loss in cancer and HIV/AIDS patients. The Mayo Clinic is investigating the compound, trade-named Marinol, as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston are studying Marinol for chronic pain."

Yet, the general standing of the Obama administration is firm:

"Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug, and the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime and provides a significant source of revenue to large-scale criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels," a 2009 Justice Department memo said.



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