Trustees of the California Medical Association, representing more than 35,000 physicians statewide, on Oct. 14 adopted a position calling for legalization of cannabis at their annual meeting in Anaheim—becoming the first major medical association in the nation to do so. Dr. Donald Lyman, the Sacramento physician who wrote the group's new policy, attributed the move to growing frustration over California's medical marijuana law, which puts practitioners in the situation of having to decide whether to recommend a substance that is illegal under federal law.
"It's an uncomfortable position for doctors," Lyman said. "It is an open question whether cannabis is useful or not. That question can only be answered once it is legalized and more research is done. Then, and only then, can we know what it is useful for."
The CMA acknowledges some health risk associated with cannabis use and proposes that it be regulated under a system similar to that for alcohol and tobacco. But it holds that the consequences of criminalization outweigh the hazards. Lyman said current laws have "proven to be a failed public health policy." He cited increased prison costs, the impact on families when cannabis users are imprisoned, and racial disparities in drug sentencing. (LAT, Oct. 15)
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