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American Medical Association (AMA) Endorses Cannabis for Medical Purposes (November 2009)

posted Jan 29, 2013, 11:27 PM by The Editor   [ updated Jan 30, 2013, 1:33 AM ]
At a November 10, 2009 interim meeting, the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a new policy calling for further study of the medicinal value of marijuana and urging review of marijuana's status as a federal Schedule 1 controlled substance.  The recommendation to change Policy H-95.952 was made by the AMA's Council on Science and Public Health, and reads as follows:

(1) Our AMA calls for further adequate and well-controlled studies of marijuana and related cannabinoids in patients who have serious conditions for which preclinical, anecdotal, or controlled evidence suggests possible efficacy and the application of such results to the understanding and treatment of disease.  

(2) Our AMA urges that marijuana’s status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods. This should not be viewed as an endorsement of state-based medical cannabis programs, the legalization of marijuana, or that scientific evidence on the therapeutic use of cannabis meets the current standards for a prescription drug product. (New HOD Policy)  

(3) Our AMA urges the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to implement administrative procedures to facilitate grant applications and the conduct of well-designed clinical research into the medical utility of marijuana. This effort should include: a) disseminating specific information for researchers on the development of safeguards for marijuana clinical research protocols and the development of a model informed consent on marijuana for institutional review board evaluation; b) sufficient funding to support such clinical research and access for qualified investigators to adequate supplies of marijuana for clinical research purposes; c) confirming that marijuana of various and consistent strengths and/or placebo will be supplied by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to investigators registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency who are conducting bona fide clinical research studies that receive Food and Drug Administration approval, regardless of whether or not the NIH is the primary source of grant support.  

(4)Our AMA believes that effective patient care requires the free and unfettered exchange of information on treatment alternatives and that discussion of these alternatives between physicians and patients should not subject either party to criminal sanctions. (CSA Rep. 10, I-97;
Modified: CSA Rep. 6, A-01)

Report 3 of the Council on Science and Public Health (I-09)
Use of Cannabis for Medicinal Purposes
(Resolutions 910, I-08; 921, I-08; and 229, A-09)

The executive summary of the report which inspired this AMA resolution change states:

Results of 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.  However, the patchwork of state-based systems that have been established for "medical marijuana" is woefully inadequate in establishing even rudimentary safeguards that normally would be applied to the appropriate clinical use of psychoactive substances.  The future of cannabinoid-based medicine lies in the rapidly evolving field of botanical drug substance development, as well as the design of molecules that target various aspects of the endocannabinoid system.  To the extent that rescheduling marijuana out of Schedule I will benefit this effort, such a move can be supported.

Further reading:

"AMA Report Recognizes Medical Benefits of Marijuana, Urges Further Research." ASA. Americans for Safe Access, 10 Nov. 2009. Web. 30 Jan. 2013. <>.

Hoeffel, John. "Medical Marijuana Gets a Boost from Major Doctors Group." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 11 Nov. 2009. Web. 30 Jan. 2013. <>.