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American College of Physicians (ACP) Endorses Research into the Therapeutic Role of Marijuana (July 2008)

posted Jan 29, 2013, 11:53 PM by The Editor   [ updated Jan 29, 2013, 11:56 PM ]
In 2008, the American College of Physicians released a position paper supporting medical marijuana research.  The ACP stated that marijuana has been smoked for its medicinal properties for centuries, and that "preclinical, clinical, and anecdotal reports suggest numerous potential medical uses for marijuana."

The ACP acknowledges that the legal status of marijuana has hindered scientific research on marijuana as medicine:

Additional research is needed to further clarify the therapeutic value of cannabinoids and determine optimal routes of administration. Unfortunately, research expansion has been hindered by a complicated federal approval process, limited availability of research-grade marijuana, and the debate over legalization. ACP believes the science on medical marijuana should not be obscured or hindered by the debate surrounding the legalization of marijuana for general use. In this paper the College lays out a series of positions on research into, and the use of, marijuana as medicine.

The American College of Physicians' policy positions on marijuana as medicine are as follows:
  • Position 1: ACP supports programs and funding for rigorous scientific evaluation of the potential therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana and the publication of such findings.
    • Position 1a: ACP supports increased research for conditions where the efficacy of marijuana has been established to determine optimal dosage and route of delivery.
    • Position 1b: Medical marijuana research should not only focus on determining drug efficacy and safety but also on determining efficacy in comparison with other available treatments.
  • Position 2: ACP encourages the use of nonsmoked forms of THC that have proven therapeutic value.
  • Position 3: ACP supports the current process for obtaining federal research-grade cannabis.
  • Position 4 (see Addendum): ACP urges 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. This review should consider the scientific findings regarding marijuana's safety and efficacy in some clinical conditions as well as evidence on the health risks associated with marijuana consumption, particularly in its crude smoked form.
  • Position 5: ACP strongly supports exemption from federal criminal prosecution; civil liability; or professional sanctioning, such as loss of licensure or credentialing, for physicians who prescribe or dispense medical marijuana in accordance with state law. Similarly, ACP strongly urges protection from criminal or civil penalties for patients who use medical marijuana as permitted under state laws.

American College of Physicians. Supporting Research into the Therapeutic Role of Marijuana. Philadelphia: American College of Physicians; 2008: Position Paper. (Available from American College of Physicians, 190 N. Independence Mall West, Philadelphia, PA 19106.)