October 19, 2009, the Obama administration is now officially reversing the Federal stance on medical marijuana and thereby ordering authorities not to arrest or charge any users and suppliers that conform to state laws. Justice Department officials are telling prosecutors and Federal Drug Enforcement Agents that they have more important things to do than to arrest people who obey state laws that allow some use or sale of medical marijuana, according to the L.A. Times.
As more and more states accept the use of medical marijuana, and with more research being done on the drug, an increasing number of physicians are adopting marijuana as a safe and effective treatment and/or management of many diseases and conditions.
Last year the American College of Physicians, the nation’s second largest doctors’ organization made up of more than 120,000 physicians, released a proposition endorsing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The proposition also called for more research and scientific studies to be conducted concerning its medical use. Physicians also urged the United States government to back off from their strict policies against legalizing marijuana for medical use.
Former United States Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders released a press statement saying, “This is a historic statement by one of the world’s most respected physician groups, and shows the growing scientific consensus that marijuana is a safe, effective medicine for some patients, including many battling life-threatening illnesses like cancer and AIDS.”
And, in other news regarding medical marijuana, the United States Supreme Court decided in April 2009 not to review a lower court’s decision that upheld the right of a physician to prescribe and/or recommend medical marijuana to patients. Many appeals have been made and even former Presidents Clinton and Bush have tried to threaten the removal of medical licenses to those physicians who recommend marijuana to patients.
The United States Supreme Court upheld an injunction by the Federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the case of Conant vs. Walters, which prohibited the Federal Government from threatening physicians and marijuana doctors to revoke licenses should the physician recommend, or even discuss, medical marijuana use with their patients in states where medicinal marijuana has been legalized.
Nevertheless, the Federal Government continues to threaten physicians who prescribe or recommend marijuana under state law.
Medicinal use of marijuana, as per the recommendation of a licensed physician, has been legalized in thirteen states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. However, only California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Rhode Island allow for the use of dispensaries to sell the drug.
The following medical organizations are just a few that have openly endorsed the medicinal use of marijuana under their physician’s recommendation:
• American College of Physicians
• Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
• American Academy of Family Physicians
• American Alliance for Medical Cannabis
• American Public Health Association
• American Psychiatric Association
• American Nurses Association
• British Medical Association
• Health Canada
While the future of medical marijuana remains unclear, these recent gains may propel the country to gradually accept medicinal uses of marijuana for chronic conditions and perhaps eventually replace the manufactured medications from drug companies that have been shown to cause horrendous side effects.