AMA Votes to Reschedule Medical Marijuana

AMA Report Recognizes Medical Benefits of Marijuana, Urges Further Research
Largest and oldest U.S. physician-based group reverses long-held position on
medical marijuana

Houston, TX -- The American Medical Association (AMA) voted today to reverse
its long-held position that marijuana be retained as a Schedule I substance
with no medical value. The AMA adopted a report drafted by the AMA Council
on Science and Public Health (CSAPH) entitled, "Use of Cannabis for
Medicinal Purposes," which affirmed the therapeutic benefits of marijuana
and called for further research. The CSAPH report concluded that, "short
term controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic
pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with
reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with
multiple sclerosis." Furthermore, the report urges that "the Schedule I
status of marijuana be reviewed with the goal of facilitating clinical
research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate
delivery methods."

The change of position by the largest physician-based group in the country
was precipitated in part by a resolution adopted in June of 2008 by the
Medical Student Section (MSS) of the AMA in support of the reclassification
of marijuana's status as a Schedule I substance. In the past year, the AMA
has considered three resolutions dealing with medical marijuana, which also
helped to influence the report and its recommendations. The AMA vote on the
report took place in Houston, Texas during the organization's annual Interim
Meeting of the House of Delegates. The last AMA position, adopted 8 years
ago, called for maintaining marijuana as a Schedule I substance, with no
medical value.

"It's been 72 years since the AMA has officially recognized that marijuana
has both already-demonstrated and future-promising medical utility," said
Sunil Aggarwal, Ph.D., the medical student who spearheaded both the passage
of the June 2008 resolution by the MSS and one of the CSAPH report's
designated expert reviewers. "The AMA has written an extensive,
well-documented, evidence-based report that they are seeking to publish in a
peer-reviewed journal that will help to educate the medical community about
the scientific basis of botanical cannabis-based medicines." Aggarwal is
also on the Medical & Scientific Advisory Board of Americans for Safe Access
(ASA), the largest medical marijuana advocacy organization in the U.S.

The AMA's about face on medical marijuana follows an announcement by the
Obama Administration in October discouraging U.S. Attorneys from taking
enforcement actions in medical marijuana states. In February 2008, a
resolution was adopted by the American College of Physicians (ACP), the
country's second largest physician group and the largest organization of
doctors of internal medicine. The ACP resolution called for an
"evidence-based review of marijuana's status as a Schedule I controlled
substance to determine whether it should be reclassified to a different
schedule. "The two largest physician groups in the U.S. have established
medical marijuana as a health care issue that must be addressed," said ASA
Government Affairs Director Caren Woodson. "Both organizations have
underscored the need for change by placing patients above politics."

Though the CSAPH report has not been officially released to the public, AMA
documentation indicates that it: "(1) provides a brief historical
perspective on the use of cannabis as medicine; (2) examines the current
federal and
state-based legal envelope relevant to the medical use of cannabis; (3)
provides a brief overview of our current understanding of the pharmacology
and physiology of the endocannabinoid system; (4) reviews clinical trials on
the relative safety and efficacy of smoked cannabis and botanical-based
products; and (5) places this information in perspective with respect to the
current drug regulatory framework."

Further information:
Executive Summary of AMA Report:
Recommendations of AMA Report:
American College of Physicians resolution: