Society of Addiction Medicine Blasts Medical Marijuana


Graphic: ASAM
Never mind what all those silly patients and physicians say. The American Society of Addiction Medicine says marijuana isn’t “medical,” and that’s apparently supposed to settle it.

​If you enjoy bullshit, you can certainly have a hell of a time with the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s white paper on medicinal cannabis. That becomes clear from the moment you see those quote marks on the cover: The Role of the Physician in “Medical” Marijuana.

Touting the supposed dangers of marijuana, the reputed lack of clinical research “on a controlled substance with a high potential for abuse,” and the physician’s oath to “first, do no harm,” ASAM on Wednesday released a white paper [PDF] prepared last fall which recommends a halt to using cannabis as medicine, even in states where it has been declared legal.

The organization — for what it’s worth, considered the nation’s leading professional society of physicians involved in addiction prevention and treatment — supported federal regulatory standards for drug approval and distribution, and discouraged what it called “state interference” in the “federal medication-approval process,” reports Yahoo! News.

“Our policy statement is a careful attempt to put marijuana into proper perspective,” claimed Louis E. Baxter Sr., M.D., president and board chair of ASAM. “We do not recognize this as a ‘medication,’ having not gone through an official FDA-approval process. As experts in addiction medicine, we reject having its use as such foisted upon us to effectively regulate a non-FDA-approved substance to administer as medicine. We also advise physicians against recommending it, as it is, and possibly forsaking the Hippocratic Oath of ‘first do no harm.’ “
Leaving aside the obvious irony and hypocrisy with which that statement is shot through, ASAM’s ignorant statement — which clearly puts procedure over patients — is a benighted attempt to stuff the medical marijuana genie back into the bottle, a misguided attempt to return to the bad old days when patients didn’t have a natural herbal choice, but were rather forced to support Big Pharma and its harsh and often ineffective chemicals.
With laws in 15 states and the District of Columbia allowing the use of medical marijuana, ASAM claims this has resulted in a “patchwork system” that “lacks the patient safeguards normally associated with the appropriate clinical use of psychoactive substances.”
“The informal network puts physicians in an untenable position as gatekeepers to a controlled substance still deemed illicit by the federal government,” claimed Dr. Andrea G. Barthwell, former president of ASAM and a principal advisor to George W. Bush on policies aimned at reducing the demand for illegal drugs (would you put that on your resumé? I sure the hell wouldn’t).
“We urge physicians to reject this role, and remind those who recommend cannabis that they could fail to meet their professional obligations to patients and possibly have their license revoked,” Dr. Barthwell said, seemingly completely unaware that U.S. case law (see the Conant v McCaffrey case) has already determined that physicians cannot have their licenses revoked simply for recommending marijuana.
“The safety and availability of any prescriptive medicine should depend on years of careful scientific scrutiny, not whims at the ballot box by individuals who lack the qualifications to make such decisions,” Dr. Barthwell said haughtily. “Allowing cannabis to circumvent FDA approval sets a dangerous precedent and puts us on a slippery slope.”
According to her ASAM colleague, notorious marijuana foe Robert L. DuPont, M.D., who, surprise, surprise, helped developed the society’s policy, “Marijuana is not the harmless herb many believe it is, but a powerful drug with a variety of effects.”
“It can produce adverse mental, emotional, behavioral and physical changes, and contrary to popular notions, it is addictive,” Dr. DuPont claimed, ignoring years of evidence otherwise.
Dr. DuPont was the first director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the second White House Drug Czar, in the Nixon and Ford administrations. As President Nixon’s Drug Czar, Dr. DuPont helped put into place the enormously destructive policies of the modern War On Drugs.