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James Connolly

End War on Marijuana

Allow Research on Endocannabinoid System


The American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine (AACM) rejects the failed U.S. drug war and the Feds’ refusal to recognize the medicinal value of cannabis and cannabinoids.

Forty years ago this year, Richard Nixon declared a War on Drugs (WOD). The WOD is now the longest running “war” in American history and a great failure. After four decades of government waste, anti-science rhetoric, millions of shattered lives, and the expenditure of hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, it is time to recognize, as more than 70 percent of Americans do, that the WOD has failed. The WOD has turned out to be a war on minorities and the U.S. Constitution.

In June of this year, the 19-member Global Commission on Drug Policy (including several former heads of state, former secretary of state George Schultz, former Federal Reserve chairperson Paul Volcker, and former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan) released their report, which states that “political leaders and public figures should have the courage to articulate publicly what many of them acknowledge privately: that the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that repressive strategies will not solve the drug problem, and that the War on Drugs has not, and cannot, be won.”

The many unintended negative consequences of our current drug laws include (but are not limited to) putting barriers in the way of legitimate medical use of cannabis and medical research that can help in treating cancer pain, seizures, migraines, Crohn’s disease, and a host of other conditions. Our government is putting road blocks in the way of gaining a better understanding of the workings of the central nervous system and the role of the endocannabinoid system.

President Barack Obama has said that science should be the determining factor regarding the medicinal use of cannabis, yet his administration has acted in exactly the same anti-science fashion as the Bush administration. The AACM requests that President Obama be a man of his word and follow the consensus of cannabinoid scientists and drug policy reform activists both nationally and internationally concerning the endocannabinoid system; that consensus is the inappropriateness of scheduling cannabis as a schedule I drug. The President should support and promote clinical and basic research on cannabis and its active constituents (cannabinoids). This would lead to both medical and economic benefits for the U.S.

There are many reasons to support the clinical application of cannabis, but two of the most compelling are (1) that so many sufferers of advanced cancer get relief from the symptoms of pain from the medicinal use of cannabis. (2) Many sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) find cannabis provides the best PTSD symptom relief. Last year the Pentagon estimated 33 percent of our service men and women will return from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD. Don’t we as their fellow Americans owe them the full array of proven therapeutic options? They have earned the right to be treated as heroes, and with compassion, and not as criminals.

In fact, the VA medical director has recently recognized the fact that many veterans suffering from PTSD use cannabis, and the National Cancer Institute recently noted the medical benefits of cannabis for cancer patients.

It is well past time for the federal government to stop ignoring the public support for drug policy reform and the medicinal use of cannabis. Presently, 16 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medicinal cannabis. There are well over 100 medical organizations calling for the rescheduling of cannabis from schedule I to schedule II or higher. These include the American Nurse Association (ANA), American Public Health Association (APHA), American College of Physicians (ACP), and the American Medical Association (AMA).

The AACM, therefore, strongly recommends, after more than 40 years of the WOD, that: 1) It is time to reject the failures of the past and let loose the engine of American industry, 2) it is time for the President to be a man of his word; look at the science, support rescheduling cannabis, and have the federal government fund clinical studies using both whole plant cannabis and its active constituents; and not just British-grown cannabis and/or cannabis from the federal marijuana farm at the University of Mississippi but various American strains. The government should follow the recommendation of Chief DEA Administrative Law Judge Judy Bittner and allow University of Massachusetts Botany Professor Lyle Craker, an expert on botanical medicinals, the opportunity to do research on cannabis as one would any other botanical medicinal.

The AACM joins with more than 100 medical/scientific organizations to oppose the War on Drugs and the federal government’s monopoly on cannabis for clinical and basic research. We request the opportunity to meet with the drug czar and appropriate FDA and DEA officials to educate them on the medicinal uses of cannabis and the potential savings of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars.

In summary, a quote from the Institute of Medicine, which, in a federally financed report in 1999 concluded, like all scientific organizations that has examined these issues, that “Marijuana is an effective medical treatment and is neither addictive nor a gateway drug.”

David Bearman is a Santa Barbara doctor, writing on behalf of the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine

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