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Nov-07-2007 09:21printcomments

American Psychiatric Association Assembly Unanimously Backs Medical Marijuana

A major move by one of the nation's top medical groups, they are backing medical marijuana and they want the federal government to leave doctors alone.

Medical marijuana logo
Courtesy: Marijuana Policy Project

(WASHINGTON, D.C. ) - In a unanimous vote, the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association has approved a strongly worded statement supporting legal protection for patients using medical marijuana with their doctor's recommendation.

"This is a very large and important medical organization, it isn't some fringe group," said Bruce Mirken from the Marijuana Policy Project.

He told, "This move debunks a lot of the nonsense from some of the anti-medical marijuana groups. They have been aggressively using false information tactics.

"These groups allege that there are various links between mental illness and marijuana, ignoring the fact that it is well documented that medical marijuana can be therapeutic".

The APA action paper, which must be approved by the APA Board of Trustees when it meets in December, notes that 12 states now have medical marijuana laws, and states:

"The threat of arrest by federal agents, however, still exists. Seriously ill patients living in these states with medical marijuana recommendations from their doctors should not be subjected to the threat of punitive federal prosecution for merely attempting to alleviate the chronic pain, side effects, or symptoms associated with their conditions or resulting from their overall treatment regimens. ... [We] support protection for patients and physicians participating in state approved medical marijuana programs."

This is not the first, but the second action paper calling on the government to facilitate "well-designed clinical research into the medical utility of marijuana" were adopted Saturday with no dissenting votes by the APA Assembly, which represents the group's 74 district branches and 16 allied professional organizations.

"This vote is a landmark, and a proud day for our profession," said Abraham L. Halpern, M.D., professor emeritus of psychiatry at New York Medical College and past president of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.

"As physicians, we cannot abide our patients being subject to arrest and jail for using a physician-recommended treatment that clearly relieves suffering for many who are not helped by conventional treatments."

"This unanimous vote shows the growing acceptance of medical marijuana by organized medicine," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C.

"Members of Congress who have opposed efforts to protect patients from federal prosecution have tried to portray medical marijuana as a fringe issue. But the APA Assembly vote, along with other recent endorsements including the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, shows that it's those who want to arrest the sick and suffering who are on the fringe."

With 40,000 members and 16 allied organizations (including the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Association for Social Psychiatry, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, and the American Association of Emergency Psychiatrists), the American Psychiatric Association is the main professional organization for psychiatrists in the United States.

Mirken says the the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association's trustees will vote on the matter in December.

With more than 23,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States.

MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit

See Also:
Study Shows Surprisingly Few Negative Impacts on Kids Who Use Marijuana
Health News: American Medical Association


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malcolm kyle October 5, 2011 9:07 am (Pacific time)

Schizophrenia affects approximately one percent of the population. That percentage has held steady since the disease was identified, while the percentage of people who have smoked marijuana has varied from about 5% to around 40% of the general population. Source: Kindly Google any of the following combinations: Nicotine and Schizophrenia Alcohol and Schizophrenia Chocolate and Schizophrenia Sugar and Schizophrenia Gluten and Schizophrenia So should we hand the market in any of the above substances to criminals (which is what prohibition effectively does) because its use is 'associated' with a certain minute part of the population? Many bipolar patients misuse caffeine and tobacco in an effort to bring on a manic state, thus becoming a danger to themselves or others. Should tobacco and caffeine or whatever works for each individual be prohibited to boost ratings or rhetoric also? Where does it end? Persons with chronic mental illness die 25 years earlier than the general population does, and smoking is the major contributor to that premature mortality. This population consumes 44% of all cigarettes. Source: Cigarette smoking rates in the American population are approximately 23%, whereas rates of smoking in clinical and population studies of individuals with neuropsychiatric disorders are typically two- to four-fold higher. Source: Caffeine is most certainly linked with mental illness; psychosis even. Here’s some reading: Broderick, P. and Benjamin, A.B. (2004). Caffeine and psychiatric symptoms: a review. Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, 97(12), 538-542. Hedges, D.W., Woon, F.L. and Hoopes S.P. (2009). Caffeine-induced psychosis. CNS Spectrums, 14(3),127-129. According to Bryce Tierney, Loughner, once said, “I’m going to lead a more healthy lifestyle, not smoke cigarettes or pot anymore, and I’m going to start working out.” Tierney was happy for his friend: “I said, ‘Dude, that’s awesome.’ And the next time I saw him he was 10 pounds lighter.” Tierney never saw Loughner smoke marijuana again After Loughner apparently gave up drugs and booze, “his theories got worse,” Tierney says. “After he quit, he was just off the wall.” We can continue to blame, and attempt to prohibit, any of the above substances, but nothing will change except for the fact that criminals will become richer, terrorists will grow stronger, and our corrupt politicians will call for even more infringements on what's left of our freedoms by passing laws that will take us even closer to total economic and social collapse. So pat yourselves on the back …as this 'once great and free' nation dies a little more with each passing day.

bob arcter May 24, 2010 9:43 pm (Pacific time)

too bad you have to know specific details on this matter or you wont easily find this information, thanks to the share holders of the search engines ie. lily corp and pfizer gotta take that albilify its even been approved to treat the depression of people who live on multi million dollar beach front property, cuz when you make it to the top in america the thought of falling down a slot can really screw your head up.

Daniel Simons April 22, 2010 3:41 am (Pacific time)

It says here a very uplifting note: that medications which do not work for people (including psychiatric drugs labled for psychiatric conditions) do not have to be dispensed. In this case you can go a step further and say, where the medication is not correct or appropriate or has been harmful in the past, medical marijuana is a very realistic antidote.

carpo December 10, 2008 10:27 pm (Pacific time)

well....we who smoke it know better than the idiots who dismiss it as harmful. Thanks to the probation department i now have to take pills to help my anxiety, and shame an those asses who wont let a less harmful herb help me to feel like a real person. I guess if its okay to take ssri pills and not an herb it MUST be the right way. We need to make things right and soon.

Jazurel August 5, 2008 9:58 pm (Pacific time)

I love the new research! All these idiots talking sht about POT will be prescribed it in the near future for pretty much everything, not just pain. Not going to believe me, so take ten, see what science says and you decide!

ganjababa August 2, 2008 9:53 am (Pacific time)

superb.... mind blowing, keep it up..!!!

Medical Marijuana May 6, 2008 11:05 am (Pacific time)

I am on Disability because of a mental disorder called Bipolar. Until I discovered that marijuana helps control the manic phase of this disease I suffered continuously and was often prescribed Valium, Clonopin or an equivilant to deal with anxiety. Marijuana relieves that. I recently was arrested and charged with manufacturing a controlled substance for having ONE immature marijuana plant in my apartment. This is apparently a felony. Considering all the Rx drugs I take for my condition (Lithium for one) I prefer to use a natural substance. What specifically can individuals do to lift the stigma from marijuana and work towards its legalization, at least for medical reasons.

Dee Nucckles February 4, 2008 10:33 pm (Pacific time)

Dis country is backwards cigarettes and booze kill people but it is imposible to overdose on weed i smoke weed all the time i think weed has its ups n downs but dats anything that is abused its great used responsibly

j January 11, 2008 1:39 pm (Pacific time)

hey, i can only tell you that my body is mutilated from infant abuse and i've been smoking for 30 somthin years, it helps me eat and do my housework and deal with the pain, the physical and major mental, and anyone i've been mean to in my life I am truly sorry janelle roberts

thebizer November 9, 2007 9:33 am (Pacific time)

If you want to read the APA's CON medical marijuana position, check out: The APA position does not apepar on its website. It will not until the Board of Trustees approves what the Assembly passed and it becomes an official APA position.

Question November 8, 2007 4:02 pm (Pacific time)

Why the hell should ANYONE be forbidden from eating, drinking, or smoking whatever she likes, so long as she isn't hurting anyone else. Screw "medical marijuana" -- we need to get these "know-better-than-you" politicians out of all our personal decisions.

tommy69069 November 8, 2007 2:00 pm (Pacific time)

I think this truly boils down to a dr should be able to prescribe ANY treatment he/she feels will help the patient .I ask what gives anyone the right to question my dr or my faith in him/her

Cara November 8, 2007 7:29 am (Pacific time)

Why should we give more money to prescription for a weed that grows in dirt? Anyone can grow marijuana, and that's why the drug companies want to patent it too, and sell it to us in little pills, which, by the way, many cancer patients can't swallow.

Missy November 8, 2007 6:19 am (Pacific time)

I've been a participant of weed since I was 18. I havent gone on to harder stuff as predicted by "government studies". Havent lost any material items or physical atributes due to use. It was the only thing that made me able to eat during a difficult pregnancy. There were no birth defects or long term affects as my daughter is 22 today and is a wonderfully educated and proficiantly functioning adult. So there. Case in point, I have lived smoking and not drinking which I believe is more destructive on the human body and mind. By the way I'm 47. Leagalize it, we will all be happier people just to have the choice.

natedog November 8, 2007 2:44 am (Pacific time)

Guess what?It is legal.I know someone that gets Marinol in a little round brown gell pill.inside it is already active thc oil, but can also be burnt to get even stronger effect.So there you go.If you want to carry it aroung legitimately then find the right doctor to prescribe it to ya.might cost ya though:)

Tyler November 8, 2007 12:35 am (Pacific time)

@Godsofthead. Oh yeah you have convinced me a vaporizer would be much safer. You are right that I shouldn't trust the modern medical establishment or even respect any of their conclusions- Why do you? Gods of telling other people what to do when its none of your business cause they aren't hurting anyone especially compared to the damage from legal and prescription drugs should be your name.

Bilbato November 7, 2007 11:08 pm (Pacific time)

Well Chaos, you sure seem to know your rhetoric pretty damn well. Or maybe it was just that the brain-washing was all too effective. But in any case, this past February/March, a study was released in which 16 experts, ranging from criminal justice, to sociology, to psychology, and neurology all rated 16 of the main drugs and their a) physical harm, b) social harm and found that both alcohol and marijuana (alcohol ranking as number 4 if I recall correctly and tabacoo as number 11 or 12) and then at 14th was marijuana. Where 1 being most harmful, and 20 being the least harmful. So where two LEGAL drugs are more harmful the quite a large number of NON-LEGAL drugs... questioning must, and will occur. Consider the fact that the same panal of 16 experts felt that both LSD and MDMA (or Extasy in common parlance) are even less harmful sociologically and psychologically then alcohol and tabacoo. So before you start spouting on about the evils of drugs. How bout you begin to question the evils of LEGAL drugs. And that includes both sugar and caffeine, as both have been fairly substantiated as being able to be considered drugs. So please... stop spouting off dumb ass rhetoric, and begin to think for yourself. Oh, and it should be noted that a UK Pharm company developed an anti-cannabanoid drug, and in the clinical tests, at least one of the participants developed schizophrenia. Upon discontinuation of the anti-cannabinoid, the schizophrenia dissipated.

GodsofChaos November 7, 2007 8:59 pm (Pacific time)

"The doctor in charge was not sure why as it was assumed the test was going to prove SOMETHING was bad about smoking herb- not just that it cant be taxed because it's so easy to grow."Tyler Yeah and at one time American doctors thought Cocaine was a miracle drug. This drug was then put into everything including children's cough medicine.Coca Kola had Cocaine as one of their ingredients,we replaced it with caffeine,. What to know why the roaring twenties were so roaring is everyone was taking the drug. It was later that the bad side effects became clear.I just thought that it was important that doctors aren't always right.

Tyler November 7, 2007 6:26 pm (Pacific time)

I read a report last year in "The Week" about an article in the Washington Post" about a UCLA experiment involving over 20,000 participants- Designed to prove marijuana caused lung cancer- it proved the OPPOSITE, smoking the herb is cancer preventitive!!!!!!!- The doctor in charge was not sure why as it was assumed the test was going to prove SOMETHING was bad about smoking herb- not just that it cant be taxed because it's so easy to grow.A$%^*les.

debunky November 7, 2007 5:31 pm (Pacific time)

I think marijuana is as addictive as anything else that you enjoy. I like sex, make time for it in my schedule but can go days without it (months if I have to, but ouch!). I doubt anytbody has knocked over a bank to get their weed fix. And as far as marijuana being a gateway drug, I would explain it thus: when the government sets the propaganda machine on high against something like marijuana and other drugs and then one tries the drug, notes that their head didn't explode and they quite enjoy it in fact, they may tend to be doubtful of warnings about other drugs. Also, I began my drug usage in this order: cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, etc. By the "gateway" standards, cigarettes would be a gateway drug. Good for them that they have so many friends in gov't. It seems to me the ultimate silliness on behalf of humankind to have stoked the fears of citizens and lawmakers so, that they can't see the data in front of their face.

Neal Feldman November 7, 2007 3:29 pm (Pacific time)

GoC - what a joke. marijuana has nothing to do with tobacco... tobacco (well, nicotine) is highly addictive. Marijuana is not addictive at all. Anyone 'addicted' to marijuana is an addictive personality type who can be addicted to anything from gambling to soap operas. As to side effects risks your website you referenced is a Reefer Madness website with no legitimacy on any level. There is not a single documented case of any fatal accident where marijuana is deemed the primary cause or even a significan contributory element. While alcohol, for example, makes a driver more reckless and more impaired while thinking they are less impaired marijuana effects have drivers driving more carefully than even their impairments may warrant. Also both tobacco and alcohol kill hundreds of thousands a year while in the history of mankind there is not a single death attributable to marijuana use. As for lung cancer that may be but considering that marijuana users smoke far less than tobacco users and the effects of marijuana that HELP breathing (which is why there is zero risk of emphysema etc from smoking marijuana) smoking marijuana is far less risky than smoking tobacco. But the point here is that since you can legally smoke tobacco and that has the same or greater risks than smoking marijuana does those risks can hardly be used, with a straight face at least, to 'justify' banning of marijuana. And the only reasons that marijuana is a 'gateway drug' are 1) it being illegal it is sold by the same dealers who sell the other drugs that actually ARE addictive, and 2) the Reefer Madness lies and BS are debunked and disproven the first time you ever light up which tells the person that ALL that is said about ANY drugs are just as much lies so when they are told not to use meth because it is addictive and messes you up they dismiss it with 'I was told the same thing about pot and that was a lie so so is the crap you are shoveling now'. If marijuana were even fully legalized it would be no more a gateway drug than aspirin is. And the 'difference' in the marijuana between 'just' marijuana and medical marijuana is in its usage under prescription by doctor. Just like the difference between methodone that is prescribed and bought at Walgreens and that which is not and is bought on a street corner... but where is your complaint about that 'difference'? Is it that methodone can be bought at Walgreens and is covered by insurance and marijuana is not? I have no problem changing the laws so such is allowed, do you? Ah well...

Editor November 7, 2007 3:28 pm (Pacific time)

According to Brice Mirken from the Marijuana Policy Project, APA won't post anything till the board passes it and it's "official" policy. Here are the 2 actual action papers that were voted on:

Item 2007A2 12.U
Reference Committee #5
Assembly November 2-4, 2007


SUBJECT: Protection of Patients and Physicians Participating in State-approved Medical Marijuana Programs.

INTENT: That the Assembly declare that in states where patients are permitted to use marijuana medically for serious and/or severe chronic illnesses and a patient's physician has recommended its use in accordance with that state's law and that state's medical practice standards, the patient should not be subjected to federal criminal penalties for such medical use.

PROBLEM: Twelve states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Washington – have enacted medical marijuana laws. Because of these laws, thousands of patients are able to alleviate their suffering without fearing arrest by state or local authorities. The threat of arrest by federal agents, however, still exists. Seriously ill patients living in these states with medical marijuana recommendations from their doctors should not be subjected to the threat of punitive federal prosecution for merely attempting to alleviate the chronic pain, side effects, or symptoms associated with their conditions or resulting from their overall treatment regimens. The possession of a single marijuana cigarette can result in a sentence of up to one year, while the cultivation of a single marijuana plant can produce sentences of up to five years. Federal law makes no distinction between those who possess or grow marijuana for medical purposes and those who do not: the same penalties apply to both.


1. Do nothing, leaving patients in medical marijuana states at risk of arrest and prosecution at the federal level.

2. a) Recommend that the APA support the AMA recommendation, “The AMA believes that effective patient care requires the free and unfettered exchange of information on treatment alternatives and that discussion of these alternatives between physicians and patients should not subject either party to criminal sanctions.”
b) Support protection for patients and physicians participating in state approved medical marijuana programs.


IMPLEMENTATION: To the Board of Trustees

(Action Paper 2)

November 2-4, 2007


SUBJECT: Marijuana: Medical Research

INTENT: To urge the federal government to implement well-designed clinical research into the medical utility of marijuana.

PROBLEM: It is sometimes difficult to find adequate resources to do scientifically sound research on the medical use of marijuana.


1. Do nothing. Marijuana used for medical purposes will remain in the current scientific limbo that it now occupies at the cost of preventing progress in research.

2. Support the AMA’s policy stating, “The AMA urges the National Institute of Health to implement administrative procedures to facilitate grant applications and the conduct of well-designed clinical research into the medical utility of marijuana. This effort should include: a) disseminating specific information for researchers on the development of safeguards for marijuana clinical research protocols and the development of a model informed consent on marijuana for institutional review board evaluation; b) sufficient funding to support such clinical research and access for qualified investigators to adequate supplies of marijuana for clinical research purposes; c) confirming that marijuana of various and consistent strengths and/or placebo will be supplied by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to investigators registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency who are conducting bona fide clinical research studies that receive Food and Drug Administration approval, regardless of whether or not the NIH is the primary source of grant support.”


IMPLEMENTATION: To the Board of Trustees

syowr November 7, 2007 3:18 pm (Pacific time)

@godsofchaos -- Are you paid by an anti-marijuana group to spread obvious falsehoods and half truths that are only backed up by anecdotal evidence and flawed "scientific" studies? Anyone who thinks quoting "" is a good way for get unbiased info is beyond stupid.

Henry Ruark November 7, 2007 3:17 pm (Pacific time)

Chaos: Dunno where moniker came from, but can guess re yr continuing line. Re marijuana, you prefer to leave "real business" with already-busy criminal crowd ?

Scr November 7, 2007 2:54 pm (Pacific time)

DGDP - your point is? So big pharma can make $$$? and we can't grow it for free?

GodsofChoas November 7, 2007 2:50 pm (Pacific time)

So what changes did they do to make marijuana legal or is just marijuana medical added to the name? "MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol."Tim King If anything marijuana will become like tobacco if this plan goes into effect. Which is an highly additive,dangerous drug that is legal. Side affects: "Marijuana side effects can be as seemingly innocent as an increased appetite to as life threatening as lung cancer. Increased likelihood for accidents is also one of the marijuana side effects. Studies show that 6 to 11 percent of fatal accidents are contributed to by marijuana side effects." "Trouble remembering things Sleepiness Anxiety Paranoia Altered time perception" "You may have withdrawal symptoms, such as depressed feelings, trouble sleeping or nausea, when you stop using it." So great the gate way drug is now legal. So excuse me if I have a hard time buy in that this is a good thing.So unless they drastically changed Marijuana I think addiction and the demand for more will sky rocket.

Can you cite some sources? November 7, 2007 2:33 pm (Pacific time)

I can't find mention of this on any of the apa sites.

Editor: We have asked where this exists on the APA site, will post answer

Neal Feldman November 7, 2007 1:27 pm (Pacific time)

DGDP - another pill huh? Not too useful for those suffering from nausea and unable to keep anything down is it? And even if entirely equal in effect why pay a drug company for something you can grow for free in your garden? Please explain that one if you can? Ah well...

Neal Feldman November 7, 2007 1:24 pm (Pacific time)

About time! Now we just need to deal with Herr Kuhns and his jackbooted thuggish Goon Squad in Keizer. Ah well...

DGDP November 7, 2007 12:19 pm (Pacific time)

The UK company GW Pharmaceuticals has a cannabis drug already approved in Canada and in trials in the US.

Henry Ruark November 7, 2007 10:57 am (Pacific time)

To all: Legislature studied precisely such information in earlier reports, when they wrote law(s) we now find overrun at local level, for whatever reason. This is American way - support from top professional groups, amplifying strong trends ongoing with detailed recommendations. SO now bullyboy and similar petty political-prince/types better back off before the real law --proven fact from professional sources-- is not so suddenly seized upon to beat their stubborn behinds into proper submission to facts so proven they must now prevail.

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