(NaturalNews) Transcending political controversy and stigma surrounding the subject, the second largest physician group in the country has endorsed the use, reclassification, and further study of medicinal marijuana. In a position paper issued February 14th, the American College of Physicians (ACP) makes the case that the red tape surrounding the medical use of cannabis has obscured good science for too long.
Several states including California have opened the door for legal use of medical marijuana, but this stands in opposition to the federal government's Schedule I classification of the plant. This discontinuity has led to legal obfuscation and obscurity as to what really is legal. Schedule I is a term used to describe drugs such as LSD and heroin, and translates to a substance having "no accepted medical use and being unsafe for use even under medical supervision."
With their newly defined position, ACP now joins the ranks of dozens of other national medical groups urging an ease on cannabis regulation in the face of what many consider overwhelming scientific evidence of its medicinal usefulness. "ACP urges review of marijuana's status as a Schedule I controlled substance and reclassification into a more appropriate schedule, given the scientific evidence regarding marijuana's safety and efficacy in some clinical conditions," the paper states.
Supporters hope that this will be the long-awaited nudge needed to tip the American Medical Association (AMA) in favor of reclassification and legal protection for medical use of the drug. The AMA urges further research, but so far it does not support reclassification of the Schedule I substance.
To date, the most serious argument for potential damage done by cannabis is harm to the lungs caused by smoking. The paper notes that this problem has already been overcome by a technology known as vaporization, in which the active constituents are efficiently released into the lungs without burning the plant.
Another myth dispelled by the paper is that marijuana acts as a 'gateway drug,' leading to the use of more harmful substances. "Marijuana has not been proven to be the cause or even the most significant predictor of serious drug abuse. Opiates are highly addictive, yet medically effective ... There is no evidence to suggest that medical use of opiates has increased perception that their illicit use is safe or acceptable," the group states.
The paper also cites significant evidence that cannabis relieves the nausea, vomiting and wasting that accompany cancer, AIDS and other diseases, while lessening the pain associated with multiple sclerosis and many other conditions.
Calling for further research, ACP points out that the period of validation has passed in more heavily researched areas. In these cases, the group makes clear their position that the time has come to roll out trials designed to determine proper dosage and method of delivery -- a step currently being stonewalled by the drug's legal classification.
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