U.S. doctors seek right to discuss marijuana use
December 10, 1997
Web posted at: 1:53 a.m. EST (0653 GMT)
DALLAS (Reuters) -- The American Medical Association has proposed that doctors be allowed to discuss with their patients -- without risk of criminal charges -- the potential medicinal benefit of marijuana.
Delegates at the AMA's semi-annual policy-making committee in Dallas approved a resolution that recommends allowing free discussion between doctors and patients about marijuana use for treatment of diseases such as AIDS and multiple sclerosis.
"The AMA believes that effective patient care requires the free and unfettered exchange of information on treatment alternatives and that discussion of these alternatives between physicians and patients should not subject either party to criminal sanctions," the resolution said.
It also recommended that "adequate and well-controlled studies of smoked marijuana" be carried out to measure the possible benefits for patients suffering a range of serious illnesses or injuries.
Those listed included AIDS, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and neuropathic pain.
But the AMA delegates made no recommendation on whether doctors should actually be allowed to advise their patients to use marijuana, or whether medicinal marijuana use should be legalized.
John Nelson, a member of the AMA's board of trustees, said there was still no clear scientific evidence that marijuana helps such patients, and urged further research.
He said the AMA, which represents more than 40 percent of the 675,000 doctors in the United States, would push for legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes if and when there was conclusive proof it was beneficial.
"If it were ever proven, we would be very vocal in trying to change the law. Until that time, we will not," he said.
Advocates of medicinal marijuana applauded the AMA's move but said it did not go far enough.
"It is a tremendous step in the right direction but it doesn't address those other issues," said Chuck Thomas of a Washington-based group called Marijuana Policy Project.
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