AMA Rejects Institute of Medicine, Others Support for “Compassionate Access” to Medical Marijuana

The American Medical Association’s (AMA) House of Delegates rejected a proposal this week to support the limited use of medical marijuana.
The proposal, put forth by the organization’s Council on Scientific Affairs, asked Delegates to “affirm the appropriateness of [the] ‘compassionate use’ of marijuana and related cannabinoids in carefully controlled programs.” Instead, the AMA endorsed “the free and unfettered exchange of information on treatment alternatives.”
The AMA’s failure to approve the “compassionate use” of marijuana places the organization squarely at odds with one of the chief recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine (IOM). In 1999, the IOM backed the medical use of marijuana in single patient trials, stating that there exists no other “alternative for people suffering from chronic conditions that might be relieved by smoking marijuana.”
The AMA’s rejection also runs contrary to views held by the American Public Health Association, AIDS Action Council and the American Preventive Health Association, all of which support “compassionate access” to medical marijuana under limited circumstances.
“The AMA seems more concerned about pleasing the government than about helping seriously ill patients,” NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup said. “Their failure to speak out in favor of the medicinal use of marijuana is a shameful act of cowardice.”
Presently, the Canadian government grants federal exemptions to seriously ill patients who use marijuana medicinally. The U.S. initiated a similar “compassionate access” program in 1978, but eventually closed the program in 1992 to new applicants.
For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751.