22 Nov Addiction Medicine Group Discusses Repercussions of Legalizing Marijuana
This fall, the California Medical Association publicly endorsed the legalization and consequent government regulation of marijuana for all 50 states. In doing so, the group became the first medical society within the profession to advocate decriminalization of marijuana use. The CMA is 35,000 members strong and is the largest professional physician’s group in the state. Spokesmen for the association cite better regulation and more research as the basis for their position.
According to the CMA, drugs are a societal evil which will never be eliminated. Therefore, substances like marijuana should be taken out of the hands of profiteers and instead regulated by government in the same fashion as tobacco and alcohol. In their opinion, marijuana sales should be permitted but regulated for those over the age of 21 and taxes from those sales should be applied to treatment centers for teenagers and to further research into marijuana’s potential medical health benefits. The group went only so far as to say that doctors have been made into gatekeepers of a substance that is 100 percent non-medical.
Though it is the largest physician group within the state of California, the CMA is not the only medical group to speak out on legalization. The American Society for Addiction Medicine has met the CMA policy with pushback of its own saying that marijuana should not be legalized either for recreational use or medical use before more is known about all its associated risks and benefits. The addiction doctors say that they will oppose all efforts to make the drug more readily available because what is known about marijuana is that it is a mood-altering substance with negative mental, behavioral and emotional consequences. According to the group, greater than one-half of all drug abusers in the U.S. trace their misuse to a start with marijuana. Smoking a drug, they say, is not a medicinal treatment.
The police chiefs of California also lent their voice to the cry against legalization. A spokesman for the chiefs pointed out that given the obvious negative affect marijuana has on the human brain and the significant number of traffic accidents associated with the drug’s use, to advocate decriminalization is an “unbelievably irresponsible position.”
A former advisor to the nation’s drug czar further pointed out that funding research and treatment through legalization was an unlikely proposition. He cited the small number of programs dedicated to anti-drunk driving as proof that legalization and taxation of a substance doesn’t necessarily lead to research and treatment program funding.
The federal government’s present policy toward marijuana is to classify the drug in the same manner as heroin. Marijuana holds zero medical value and continues to be illegal to prescribe. Policy should be driven by facts rather than by a cultural exhaustion from holding the line on responsible behavior.
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