More MS news articles for June 2001

AMA Waffles on Compassionate Use of Marijuana

CHICAGO (Reuters Health) Jun 19 - The American Medical Association does not explicitly endorse the compassionate use of medical marijuana, but it does not think that patients should be sent to jail for following doctor's orders.

The AMA's Council on Scientific Affairs asked the AMA to endorse the compassionate use of medical marijuana, but the AMA's House of Delegates decided to delete that recommendation from a Council report. After making the deletion, the delegates approved the policy.

In an interview with Reuters Health, Council member Dr. Melvyn Sterling of Orange, California, said that previous AMA policy opposed compassionate use. The new policy, although not all that the Council wanted, "is silent, so that does allow compassionate use," Dr. Sterling said.

At a press conference after the vote, AMA trustees Drs. Donald Palmisano and Herman Abromowitz said that there is no science to support the medical efficacy of marijuana, although there are numerous anecdotal reports of its efficacy for the pain and anorexia associated with cancer. "The AMA is always in favor of science. We are a science-based organization," Dr. Abromowitz said.

Dr. Palmisano added, however, that the AMA "is not in favor of the criminalization of the practice of medicine." Another AMA trustee, Dr. Duane Cady, said that the house did approve policy that calls for "free and unfettered exchange of information on treatment alternatives." He said that no one should go to jail for following a doctor's advice.

The Marijuana Policy Project, a group that supports medical use of marijuana issued a statement that applauded the AMA for rescinding the earlier policy which opposed the Single Patient Investigational New Drug program for medical marijuana.

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Ltd.