More MS news articles for June 2001

AMA Scientific Council Continues Support For Medical Marijuana

CHICAGO (Reuters Health) Jun 18 - The American Medical Association's Council on Scientific Affairs is asking the AMA to continue its support for clinical trials of "marijuana and related cannabinoids" and continued support for the "compassionate use" of marijuana.

Dr. Michael A. Williams, chair of the Council on Scientific Affairs, said in an interview with Reuters Health that the report was written before the recent US Supreme Court ruling that marijuana has no therapeutic role. But he said the court decision "would not change the science of the report." Dr. Williams said there would be no final word on the efficacy of marijuana until "clinical studies are done."

Council member Dr. Melvyn L. Sterling, an internist from Orange, California, said the Council report was "about the relief of suffering, not about getting high." Although the Council recommends more studies and continued compassionate use, it also "recommends that marijuana be retained in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act," said Dr. Sterling.

A special AMA committee that conducted a hearing on the medical marijuana issue allowed a disabled veteran, Michael Krawitz of Roanoke, Virginia, to testify about the efficacy of marijuana to relieve pain. Krawitz has an artificial hip and has had part of his stomach and intestines surgically removed. He said he gets relief from marijuana but not from Marinol, a drug derived from marijuana.

Dr. David Edwards, a retired pathologist from Olympia, Washington, said that although he is not an AMA delegate he traveled to Chicago "to praise the work of this Council" and to urge the AMA to continue support for compassionate use of marijuana.

Although most of the testimony supported the Council report, some physicians said they were worried that the AMA might be portrayed as advocating legalized marijuana. One physician noted that the report referred to "smoked marijuana, which earlier studies have not done." Dr. Williams said that the earlier report did reference smoked marijuana but his Council actually deleted those terms in the new report.

The AMA will begin voting on this and other issues tomorrow.

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Ltd.