The AMA and Medical Cannabis

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During the month of November 2009 the American Medical Association made an announcement about medical cannabis that was met with enthusiasm by some advocates of medicinal treatment with cannabis. This author does not see the recent comments by the AMA as instructive, compassionate or relevant to the world wide research published on the subject.

The AMA cautiously wants more “study”, patients want cannabis.

Cannabis is a plant that is intricate to the human body’s balance, homeostasis, acting with a series of cannabis receptors in all major organs and within the our own endocannabinoid system. Our brain for example, excepting the brain stem, contains more cannabis receptors than any other type. The endocannabinoid system, unknown ten years ago, now is realized by cannabis researchers to hold the secret to the amazing variety of symptoms that cannabis positively effects. That system, integral to all human physiology, produces our very own cannabis products called endocannabinoids.

The AMA committee, schooled in western medicine protocols have no experience or formal training in this system since it was not known to exist when they all attended medical school. The US government’s 80-plus years long prohibition of medical cannabis research has denied these MD’s practical knowledge but the rest of the world, led by the United Kingdom and Israel, has established science based conclusions that the AMA did not consider because of US medical hubris. The total lack of mention of this system by the AMA indicates to me that it was not considered in the AMA statement, which urged the further study of the medical applications of cannabis. Not considering a newly discovered human system does not bode well for this organization to be the source of intimate knowledge of the efficacy of cannabis.

I refer you to the extensive list of professional healthcare organizations found at this web page that overwhelms the AMA’s lack of leadership in this emerging field of science. It is also instructive to note that while the AMA denies at this time there is medical utility for cannabis the same AMA has sanctioned the establishment of the American Academy of Cannabis Medicine as a specialty for MD’s just like pediatrics or ophthalmology. The AMA has since April 2000 authorized Patients Out of Time in partnership with several university School’s of Medicine to provide clinical cannabis education for MD’s, RN’s, SW’s etc. as part of their professional continuing education requirements.

There is not a toxicologist alive who believes that cannabis is toxic to the body. It is the safest plant known to man to ingest. There are no recorded deaths related to cannabis and a stronger than usual dose often results in a restful sleep.

Humans have utilized cannabis for thousands of years as a medicine. There is no dispute about that history. China, Israel, Africa and more have a long, credible, written history of use for a variety of disease and illness. It must amaze the AMA doctors that humans could have used this plant for thousands of years and yet we as a race survived. It keeps me wondering what these docs think will happen if we return the plant to the National Formulary where it resided for decades before the “reefer madness” set in.

While I wonder, I read of MD’s taking huge grants from companies that expect them to find new pharmacological compounds to patent and from which to profit, free lunches and game tickets from drug company salesmen to MD’s, and I see my neighbors growing cannabis in their yards also for free.

There lies the conflict of the AMA and this plant. Their actions support the cannabis “jobs program” for law enforcement that arrests some 800,000 adults in the US each year for cannabis use, the courts, jailers, bondsmen, the “tough guy” politicians and those who see personal freedom to treat an illness with professional medical help as a realm of the graduate of a law school, the military, or Nancy Reagan’s just say no simplistic and ineffective gang of followers. The support of “Big Pharma” is obvious.

The AMA resides in the US society as a diviner of medical wisdom among the press and the political class. While the action taken by the AMA is moving in the right direction, they have only taken a baby step to the obvious. Cannabis does not and never did belong in Schedule I. Of course there should be more research, but patients should not continue to be denied legal access to this medicine while the pharmaceutical companies continue to reap huge profits from the sale of their more toxic products.

Al Byrne for Patients Out of Time

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