American Medical Association (still) opposed to marijuana, but slowly coming around


In a move that isn’t at all surprising, the American Medical Association remains opposed to marijuana legalization and maintains that marijuana is a “dangerous drug” in a 19-page report titled “A Contemporary View of National Drug Control Policy”. To be fair, the group also finally admits that the war on drugs has been a complete failure.
The AMA committee on Science and Public Health also told the 527-member AMA House of Delegates in their report that they’ll be watching how recreational marijuana sales and legalization for adults over 21 pans out in the long run.

Among their largest concerns, it would seem, is holding on to the idea that cannabis is silently wrecking havok on the country while people get caught up in the legalization debate. From the report:
“Somewhat lost in the debate about legalization of cannabis are the recognized harms. Cannabis continues to be the most commonly used illicit drug in the U.S. with patterns of use trending upward, particularly among youth. A substantial number of individuals in the U.S. meet criteria for substance dependence or abuse, with only a minority able to access treatment. Treatment admissions for cannabis as the primary drug of abuse have tripled over the last 20 years. It is the most common illicit drug involved in drugged driving, particularly in drivers under the age of 21. Early cannabis use is related to later substance use disorders. Heavy cannabis use in adolescence causes persistent impairments in neurocognitive performance and IQ, and use is associated with increased rates of anxiety, mood, and psychotic thought disorders.”
But at the same time, they point out the outrageous incarceration rate in this country and targeting of minorities for marijuana far more than their white counterparts. “Federal drug policies over the last 40 plus years have not accomplished their objectives and represent a failed approach,” the report concludes. The U.S. stands out with higher levels of illicit drug use than other 8 countries despite more punitive illicit drug policies.”
The group also altered their stance on other cannabis fronts. Instead of pushing for state laws that “reduce the severity of penalties for possession of marijuana”, the group now says that states should push for public health-based strategies to reduce cannabis use. Basically: quit arresting people and start giving people treatment.
A lot of reeks of Project SAM and their anti-pot campaign that wants to shift marijuana users from forced jail time to forced treatment – shifting money from cops to the health care system. No surprise then that Patrick Kennedy, Project SAM spokesman, praised the move:
“By explicitly rejecting calls to neutralize their anti-legalization position, they are sending a loud and powerful message to state and local decision makers, the Federal government, and the general public,” he wrote.
Interestingly, the pro-pot lobby also gave the AMA some props – albeit with some backhanded jabs thrown in for good measure.
“We are sorry to hear they wish to stay the course in enforcing this failed policy, but we are pleased to hear they are interested in reviewing the potential benefits of the laws passed in Colorado and Washington to regulate marijuana like alcohol,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project. ” If the AMA is truly concerned about public health and safety, it should support a policy in which adults are able to make the safer choice to use marijuana instead of alcohol.”