by David Downs
Amid a new round of federal saber-rattling and setbacks for leading California dispensaries, here's some good news: The 35,000 doctor-strong California Medical Association has joined the reality-based community in recommending the legalization and regulation of cannabis. The CMA is the largest physician group in California and the first statewide medical association to take the position. CMA's president-elect James T Hay says it will be the first of many.
"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 Hay in a Sunday 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.”
The federal government classifies pot among the most dangerous of all drugs, alongside heroin, when it is smoked in its plant form. However, pharmaceutical companies may sell the same active ingredients in pill form legally.
The CMA recommends regulating and taxing recreational cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco. In a related white paper (.pdf), the CMA also notes, the criminalization of cannabis has proven to be a failed public health policy for several reasons, including:
a) The diversion of limited economic resources to penal system costs and away from other more socially desirable uses such as funding health care, education, transportation, etc.
b) The social destruction of family units when cannabis users are incarcerated, rather than offered treatment and other social assistance;
c) The disparate impacts that drug law enforcement practices have on communities of color
d) The continued demand for cannabis nationally, which supports violent drug cartels from Mexico and other international sources
e) The failure to decrease national and international supplies of cannabis from criminal and unregulated sources
f) The failure of the federal government‟s limited actions through the “War on Drugs” in mitigating substance abuse and addiction
Prohibition lobbyist John Lovell, spokesperson for the California's narcotics officers told the AP that the state's doctors have taken "an unbelievably irresponsible position."