AMA protested The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937,
noting that the medicinal properties of cannabis had been used to safely treat a variety
of ailments for more than one hundred years. However, when the bill came up for
debate, Representative Carl Vinson testified that the AMA agreed with the bill. On that
statement, the synthetics industry was built.
In the 1980s, the AMA publicly declared that, while it supported the classification of
marijuana as a narcotic, it endorsed the possession and use of small quantities of
medical marijuana and advocated further medical research regarding the drug.
The AMA continued its efforts on behalf of medical marijuana throughout the 1990s,
indicating that the drug’s appetite enhancing properties could counteract the wasting
syndrome associated with AIDS and other diseases. Additionally, the AMA noted that
marijuana’s ability to relieve pain made it a humane alternative to individuals with
chronic or life-threatening ailments. In 2009, the AMA strengthened its stance on
medical marijuana, calling for a review of its reclassification in order to permit legal
studies regarding its efficacy.
Fact or Fiction
Sixteen states – including Colorado – have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes,
and six other states are considering the measure. However, the Federal ban against
the drug is still in force. The age-old question of state’s rights versus federal rights
plays out on battlefields such as Arapahoe County in Colorado where a District Court
judge dismissed felony drug charges filed against Dr. Manuel Aquino-Villaman in
December 2011. The federal ban against marijuana is intended to protect the public
from a dangerous narcotic. However, is the continued ban based on fact or fiction?
Medical opinions seem to fall in favor of medical marijuana use. Dr. Joycelyn Elders,
former United States Surgeon General, recommended the drug’s use for medicinal
purposes, stating that, at its best, the drug has worked well as a pain reliever and
appetite stimulant for centuries. She also noted that, at the very least, marijuana is
less toxic than synthetic drugs.
The American College of Physicians, as well as the American Medical Association,
strongly recommends that medical marijuana usage undergo legal, controlled studies.
Additionally, both associations denounce the federal government’s undercover sting
operations such as the one that resulted in the Colorado case against Dr. Aquino-
Seemingly conflicting studies regarding the addictive nature of smoked cannabis
appeared in 2001. The United Kingdom study found no “clearly defined withdrawal
syndrome” which clearly marks the addictive nature of other drugs. The University of
Arkansas study found that withdrawal symptoms from marijuana withdrawal were
similar to those of nicotine withdrawal, leading one to conclude that either marijuana
should be legalized in the United States or nicotine should be classified as a narcotic.
As recently as 2006, the Harvard Medical School published a report stating that, while
individuals have smoked cannabis legally outside of the United States for decades, no
evidence exists pointing to an increase in lung cancer or emphysema among these
While the medical marijuana debate continues on a political level, the issue is truly one
of personal choice. Residents of Colorado are afforded this choice as a provision of the
state’s Constitution and upheld in Colorado courts. A doctor and his patient must
decide together whether marijuana is the appropriate treatment for any given illness.\\