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.