Jeff Sessions Told A DOJ Intern to “Ask the AMA” About Cannabis — So We Did

medical marijuana and a doctor's prescription

In a newly released video, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said to a Department of Justice intern, “Look, there’s this view that marijuana is harmless and does no damage . . . Marijuana is not a healthy substance in my opinion. The American Medical Association is crystal clear on that. Do you believe that? [The intern said no.] Well, you can write the AMA and see why.” See the full video at ABC.

We wrote the AMA and received their most up-to-date policies on cannabis.

A document from the American Medical Association House of Delegates shows that these policies have changed slightly since September 2016, when the organization resolved to scratch that the “sale of cannabis should not be legalized.”

In the current policy (in full below), the AMA calls for more cannabinoid research, stating, “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, the legalization of marijuana, or that scientific evidence on the therapeutic use of cannabis meets the current standards for a prescription drug product.”

AMA Policy on Cannabis 2017:

Cannabis Legalization for Recreational Use

Our AMA: (1) believes that cannabis is a dangerous drug and as such is a serious public health concern; (2) believes that the sale of cannabis for recreational use should not be legalized; (3) discourages cannabis use, especially by persons vulnerable to the drug’s effects and in high-risk populations such as youth, pregnant women, and women who are breastfeeding; (3) believes states that have already legalized cannabis (for medical or recreational use or both) should be required to take steps to regulate the product effectively in order to protect public health and safety and that  laws and regulations related to legalized cannabis use should consistently be evaluated to determine their effectiveness; (5) encourages local, state, and federal public health agencies to improve surveillance efforts to ensure data is available on the short- and long-term health effects of cannabis use; (6) supports public health based strategies, rather than incarceration, in the handling of individuals possessing cannabis for personal use.

Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research

(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. (3) Our AMA urges the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop a special schedule and implement administrative procedures to facilitate grant applications and the conduct of well-designed clinical research involving cannabis and its potential medical utility. This effort should include: a) disseminating specific information for researchers on the development of safeguards for cannabis clinical research protocols and the development of a model informed consent form for institutional review board evaluation; b) sufficient funding to support such clinical research and access for qualified investigators to adequate supplies of cannabis for clinical research purposes; c) confirming that cannabis of various and consistent strengths and/or placebo will be supplied by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to investigators registered with the DEA who are conducting bona fide clinical research studies that receive FDA approval, regardless of whether or not the NIH is the primary source of grant support. (4) Our AMA supports research to determine the consequences of long-term cannabis use, especially among youth, adolescents, pregnant women, and women who are breastfeeding. (5) Our AMA urges legislatures to delay initiating the legalization of cannabis for recreational use until further research is completed on the public health, medical, economic, and social consequences of its use.

Cannabis Legalization for Medicinal Use

Our AMA: (1) believes that scientifically valid and well-controlled clinical trials conducted under federal investigational new drug applications are necessary to assess the safety and effectiveness of all new drugs, including potential cannabis products for medical use; (2) believes that cannabis for medicinal use should not be legalized through the state legislative, ballot initiative, or referendum process; (3) will develop model legislation requiring the following warning on all cannabis products not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: “Marijuana has a high potential for abuse. This product has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for preventing or treating any disease process.”; (4) supports legislation ensuring or providing immunity against federal prosecution for physicians who certify that a patient has an approved medical condition or recommend cannabis in accordance with their state’s laws; and (5) 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.


  • Frank Russell

    Dear Jeffy Sessions,

    I’m a conservative fiscally and religiously, however I dumped my GOP voter registration to unaffiliated over the party’s antiquated views on marijuana laws. I haven’t voted democrat, yet, though if the party doesn’t take a more liberal stance on marijuana then I will. As a 50 year old college educated person from a medical family I can state with complete confidence that marijuana should not be classified in the same Federal Schedule as Cocaine and Heroin! It’s completely ridiculous and one of the major reasons the party alienates younger voters. These old guard Reagan drug policy republicans need to catch up to the rest of the world. If they don’t, I fear the party will go the way of the “blue dog” democrats.

    God Bless America.

    • Clifton G Barber

      The next process in legalization is to get rid of all the evil politicians who destroyed lives over cannabis. Republicans and Democrats all need to go or better yet die.

      • Tom Diab

        Sorry pal, but weed is a powerful drug that destroys lives when abused by smoking it.

        • Nacho Libra

          I’m a health care professional and know several people smoking weed as the delivery system for neuropathic pain. Their lives are much more on track than when they used pills, and their pain is better controlled.
          ANY drug can destroy a life when abused, yet the focus on keeping cannabis illegal is WAY out of control.

          • Tom Diab

            I teach health care professionals human physiology. No one is disputing a medical approach. The dispute is how it is distributed in the body. The plant has many of the same carcinogens as cigarettes. The medically active chemicals should be given in a measurable amount and not smoked. Furthermore, medical drugs are not given without being tested. That’s why the FDA was started in the first place. You have no idea what damage they could be doing to their lungs, cardiovascular system and nervous system. The approach, “I know some people smoking weed” is not a scientific one and is also resulting is a false narrative that it is safe. It is not safe, it is dangerous and must be treated as such…just like any other medicine. Or is it medicine? You can’t say it is medicine and not approach it like medicine.

          • Jackie Molder

            The sad truth is, there was a Compassionate IND (Investigational New Drug) program in place using Marijuana was Implemented in 1976 with the FDA backing it. The application to get in the study was made so hard, it was hard to fine a Doctor to help complete the paperwork. This happened after the FDA saw hundreds of applications pouring in from around the country. So under President Bush Sr, it was decided to shut it down 1976. 9 of the 14 had already succumbed to their illness, there were only 7 left from the original So it took the government 16 years to approve 14 people into the program. 15 years! He did allow the 7 remaining patients left to remain in the IND until they die. As of I think 2010 there were 3 remaining, that I am aware of. So you see, while the FDA was still the FDA, that Administration along with the DEA were set up to study medicinal marijuana. But the when it takes 16 years to accept 14 patients into a medical study, it goes to show you that our government isn’t serious about letting cannabis be studied at all. So in the 42 years that the patients have been in the IND, how many studies do you think they could have gone through for scientific purposes? And in 42 years, I bet we could have had an answer by now. But it seems progress has gotten in the way again. How many people do you think know about this IND? Not many I can tell you that much.

    • Tom Diab

      The schedule one designation is for smoking the plant…or the method of delivery. There are pills that contain the active ingredient that have been approved by the FDA.

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