Will the Keystone State Become a Stoned State?
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) A bill was introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate last month which will legalize medical marijuana. It is a bipartisan bill. The stated motivation for this effort, as articulated by the bill's sponsors, is to permit the compassionate use of marijuana for medical purposes.
But the medical community in the Keystone state is overwhelmingly opposed to marijuana legalization.
"We need more research to know if these products are useful," said Dr. Daniel B. Kimball, Jr., a Reading, Penn. internist. Although affiliated with the Pennsylvania chapter of the American College of Physicians, Kimball was not speaking on their behalf.
"We need the DEA to change marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II drug to do the appropriate medical research," he said. "Most of the current information, such as these claims that they benefit seizures or pain, is anecdotal. Until we do this research we will not know for sure."
The Pennsylvania Medical Society concurs with Kimball. PMS's executive director, Michael Fraser, reiterated the organization's position, during a Senate hearing about this bill, that marijuana for medical use should not be legalized until additional research is performed about its efficacy. PMS also recommends reclassification of marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II.
The American Medical Association (AMA) can be counted among the scientific and medical organizations calling for more study and remains opposed to legalization. It calls for, "...further adequate and well-controlled studies of marijuana and related cannabinoids in patients who have serious conditions for which preclinical, anecdotal, or controlled evidence suggests possible efficacy and the application of such results to the understanding and treatment of disease."
The AMA reaffirmed its position in November when, during an interim delegates meeting, it passed a resolution to this effect. Dr. Stuart Gitlow, chair of AMA's Council on Science and Health, was quoted as saying at the time, "The AMA today reiterated the widely held scientific view that marijuana is dangerous and should not be legalized...We can only hope that the public will listen to science not 'Big Marijuana' interests who stand to gain millions of dollars from increased addiction rates."
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) also adjudicated on the matter in November: "There is no current scientific evidence that marijuana is in any way beneficial for the treatment of any psychiatric disorder. In contrast, current evidence supports, at minimum, a strong association of cannabis use with the onset of psychiatric disorders. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to harm, given the effects of cannabis on neurological development."
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is also opposed to legalizing marijuana. The AAP believes that "even if limited to adults, could affect the prevalence of use among adolescents." The organization does support more research about the medical use of cannabinoids.