by Ben Morris
Tuesday night, after a week of calls by activists, the Drug Enforcement Administration updated its Web site to reflect the American Medical Association’s recent call for a review of marijuana’s Schedule I status.
The update removed several references to the AMA, including: “the American Medical Association recommends that marijuana remain a Schedule I controlled substance,” and “the American Medical Association has rejected pleas to endorse marijuana as medicine.” These changes came just over a week after the AMA released its new position on marijuana.
This may seem like a very small, almost meaningless step, but it’s important to remember how influential the AMA really is.
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Striking this language from the DEA’s Web site is a manifestation of something larger and more abstract: the gutting of our opponents’ most effective talking point.
I know everyone reading this blog has sent a letter to their member of Congress and asked for medical marijuana reforms (If you haven’t, you can here), and I’m willing to bet a lot of you have received negative responses. Think back to that response … did it mention the AMA’s opposition? Chances are it did.
When marijuana prohibition was first debated in 1937, one of the first questions was “What is the AMA’s position?” This line of thinking has been pervasive ever since. In every state where MPP has fought for patients, in every congressional office in Washington, and in countless media debates, prohibitionists have used the AMA’s opposition as their flagship talking point. That they can no longer do so is a major development.
When it comes to marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug, there is now a battle between cops and doctors. The cops say it has no medical value, but the doctors — who one might think are in a position to know — either say it does or, at a minimum, want the government to review its stance. And again, medical marijuana advocates are left wondering why the cops have a say in this debate at all. It will be interesting to see how the DEA does characterize the AMA’s new position. MPP will let you know when they do.