Richard Verstegan 5 a.m., March 12
California Medical Association Pushes Pot Legalization
The California Medical Association, in a press release dated October 16, has made a recommendation for legalization and regulation of marijuana official policy. The CMA, which represents more than 35,000 physicians, is the largest group of its kind and the first statewide organization to push for legalization.
Doctors, though, aren’t necessarily making the recommendation as an endorsement of marijuana’s health benefits. “There simply isn’t the scientific evidence to understand the benefits and risks of medical cannabis,” said Paul Phinney, M.D., CMA Board Chair. “In order for the proper studies to be done, we need to advocate for the legalization and regulation.”
Physicians also feel stuck in a gray area, being allowed to “recommend” medical cannabis, but not to actually prescribe it. Nor do they have control over the concentration of doses patients receive at medical marijuana dispensaries.
Another issue is the conflict between state and federal law. “California has decriminalized marijuana, yet it’s still illegal on a federal level,” says James T. Hay, M.D., President-elect of the CMA. “That puts physicians in an incredibly difficult legal position, since we’re the ones ultimately recommending the drug.”
John Lovell, spokesman for the California Police Chiefs Association, expressed dismay with the recommendation and seemed to challenge the authority of doctors in the practice of medicine as compared to police in an interview with the LA Times. “Given everything that we know about the physiological impacts of marijuana — how it affects young brains, the number of accidents associated with driving under the influence — it's just an unbelievably irresponsible position.”
The fight between those in favor of marijuana and those opposed is heating up in San Diego. City Attorney Jan Goldsmith announced another 16 lawsuits against cannabis collectives believed to be in violation of zoning law, bringing the total number of sites facing legal challenges to 28. San Diego now has about 187 operating dispensaries, a number that continues to rise in the absence of concrete zoning guidelines.
Pictured: Paul Phinney
More like this:
- State Supreme Court grants cities the authority to ban Medical Marijuana dispensaries — May 6, 2013
- Cities Across The County To Consider Enacting Medical Marijuana Ordinances — July 24, 2012
- Marijuana Advocacy Group Sues Obama Administration — Oct. 27, 2011
- Shopping at Weedmart — Nov. 19, 2008
- Medical Marijuana — April 13, 2006