(NaturalNews) The nation's largest physician organization, the American Medical Association, has reversed its position on marijuana and now supports investigation and clinical research on the plant for medicinal use. The group urged the federal government on Tuesday to reassess its Schedule I controlled substance categorization of marijuana that wrongly vilifies it with some of the most dangerous narcotics in existence like heroin and LSD.
Dr. Edward Langston, an AMA board member, points out that only a minimal number of randomized, controlled trials have ever been conducted on smoked marijuana despite clinical research that spans more than 30 years. The group is now encouraging further research into marijuana's efficacy despite its support since 1997 for Schedule I classification of the plant.
The Obama administration also this year ordered federal narcotics agents to cease prosecution of medical-marijuana users in states that allow for its usage, indicating a change of course from previous administrations' strict opposition to usage and enforcement of violations, even in legal states. Currently thirteen states legally allow the usage of medicinal marijuana and another twelve or so have begun to consider allowing it.
The AMA is interested in research that considers alternative delivery methods for marijuana aside from smoking it therapeutically. Advocates for medicinal marijuana cite other useful ways of utilizing the plant medicinally, including the extraction of tetrahydrocannabinol(THC)-rich hemp oil that some claim is capable of curing cancer.
Federal government reaction to the AMA's position has been largely silent despite relaxed federal enforcement of marijuana usage. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reiterated marijuana's status as a Schedule I drug and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declined to comment on the development.
The AMA was one of the only organizations to oppose the first federal restrictions on marijuana that were enacted in 1937; it continues to reject the arbitrary notion that marijuana serves no medicinal purpose, despite its past support of classification as a Schedule I narcotic. The group even opposed a proposed amendment that would have established its organizational policies in opposition to smoked marijuana as a safe delivery method for medicinal therapy.
Marijuana advocacy groups are ecstatic about the AMA's new position and the widespread shift in attitude towards medicinal marijuana. While federal policy still opposes the legalization of marijuana, citing the FDA judgment in opposition to its safe usage as medicine, popular opinion continues to sway in favor of continued research and medicinal usage.
The American College of Physicians, the second-largest physician group, last year expressed similar support for increased research and reconsideration of medicinal marijuana. The California Medical Association also passed its own resolutions that articulated the criminalization of marijuana as a "failed public health policy".
The tides are shifting towards honest inquiry into the health benefits of marijuana. The beckoning for further evidence-based research by reputable medical organizations is a step in the right direction towards legalizing marijuana for safe, legitimate medical purposes.
Ethan Huff is a freelance writer and health enthusiast who loves exploring the vast world of natural foods and health, digging deep to get to the truth. He runs an online health publication of his own at http://wholesomeherald.blogspot.com.