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American Medical Association Shelves Report Drafted By NORML Board Member'Harm Reduction' Placed On Back Burner For Now

Monday, 24 June 1996

A report drafted by NORML board member and New York Medical School Professor John P. Morgan, M.D. for the American Medical Association has been put on hold after objections were raised by several prominent medical groups regarding the paper's content.

Specifically, certain doctors were uncomfortable with Morgan's recommendations that marijuana be legalized and that "use, possession and low-level sales of all psycho-active drugs should be a subject of police action only when these activities are associated with a disruption of public order."

Dr. John Ambre, director of the AMA's Office of Medical Information Services, told reporters that he recruited Morgan to draft a report for the AMA, but would not divulge any information regarding the paper's contents or prospects.

Morgan said that he was contacted by the AMA's House of Delegates requesting a report on the subject of "harm reduction" -- a policy commonly defined as helping drug users minimize the dangers to themselves without mandating that they stop using drugs. "It struck most of us that the biggest harm reduction we could see would be to stop putting people in jail [for drug use,]" Morgan explained. Morgan was assisted by fellow NORML board member Lynn Zimmer, Ph.D. of Queens College in New York, and Ethan Nadelmann, Ph.D. of the Lindesmith Center.

Although Morgan maintains that the reaction within the AMA to his proposals was largely favorable, the issue of harm reduction was absent from the association's agenda during it's annual meeting in Chicago.

Mark Stuart, a spokesman for the AMA told reporters that he expected a revised version of the report to be submitted at the organization's interim meeting in December.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.