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The California Medical Association says it’s time to legalize it.
The state’s largest doctor group questioned the medical value of marijuana but says it’s time for it to be legal and regulated like alcohol and tobacco, reports the Los Angeles Times. The group’s spokeswoman claims it is the first major medical association in the country to call for the drug’s legalization.
“CMA may be the first organization of its kind to take this position, but we won’t be the last. This was a carefully considered, deliberative decision made exclusively on medical and scientific grounds,” said Dr. James T. Hay, CMA President-Elect in a news release. “As physicians, we need to have a better understanding about the benefits and risks of medicinal cannabis so that we can provide the best care possible to our patients.”
Indeed, the organization that represents more than 35,000 physicians across California took on the position even as it stated that marijuana has few proven health benefits. But the CMA insists more research needs to be done on the drug and that can’t happen until physicians don’t have to worry about giving patients something that is illegal under federal law. While the group recognized the substance does carry health risks, " the consequences of criminalization outweigh the hazards," notes the LAT.
“It's an uncomfortable position for doctors,” Dr. Donald Lyman, who wrote the new policy, said. “It is an open question whether cannabis is useful or not. That question can only be answered once it is legalized and more research is done.” For now it is clear that current laws have “proven to be a failed public health policy,” he added.
The group immediately came under fire from the California Police Chiefs Association as well as from other doctors, who qualified the move as irresponsible.