California’s largest doctors’ group is calling for marijuana legalization. The trustees of the California Medical Association (CMA) adopted the position at their annual meeting in Anaheim Friday. The call came after the group last year decided to study the issue and make recommendations.
The group, which represents more than 35,000 physicians statewide, called for legalization even as it acknowledged health risks and questioned the medical value of pot.
The CMA’s policy recommendations on marijuana included rescheduling marijuana in order to encourage further research, regulating recreational marijuana “in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco,” taxing marijuana, and facilitating information about the risks and benefits of marijuana use.
Dr. Donald Lyman, a Sacramento physician who authored the new policy, wrote that the new policy was inspired by frustration with California’s medical marijuana law. The law permits marijuana use with a physician’s recommendations, even though marijuana remains illegal under federal law. That puts doctors in an untenable position, Lyman argued.
“It’s an uncomfortable position for doctors,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “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. Then, and only then, can we know what it is useful for.”
But despite questioning marijuana’s medical efficacy, the CMA made it clear that it sees pot prohibition as a failure. “The California Medical Association (CMA) has recognized that the criminalization of cannabis is a failed public health policy,” Lyman wrote in the white paper. “Based on the growing momentum of medical cannabis decriminalization nationally (16 states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized medical cannabis), there may also be growing public support in several states for decriminalization of the cultivation, transport and use of cannabis.”
The CMA said it was the first state medical association to call for marijuana legalization.