Society of Addiction Medicine: No Medical Marijuana


An influential addiction prevention group is calling for the end of legalized medical marijuana in the United States. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) said it does not consider marijuana a "medicine."

The organization is considered the nation's leading professional society of physicians involved in addiction prevention, treatment, research, education, and public policy.

ASAM said the patchwork system of different laws in individual states doesn't work. Currently 15 states and the District of Columbia allow for medical marijuana. It said the FDA should decide if marijuana has any medical benefits, and then set national guidelines.

"Our policy statement is a careful attempt to put marijuana into proper perspective," Louis E. Baxter, Sr., ASAM President said in a news release from PR Newswire. "We do not recognize this as a 'medication,' having not gone through an official FDA-approval process. As experts in addiction medicine, we reject having its use as such foisted upon us to effectively regulate a non-FDA-approved substance to administer as medicine."

Dr. Andrea G. Barthwell, former ASAM President and drug policy adviser to then President George W. Bush said, "The safety and advisability of any prescriptive medicine should depend on years of careful scientific scrutiny, not whims at the ballot box by individuals who lack the qualifications to make such decisions."

Another problem with marijuana is that it is most often smoked, which contains many of the harmful elements of tobacco smoke.

"Marijuana is not the harmless herb many believe it is, but a powerful drug with a variety of effects," said Robert L. DuPont, MD, who helped develop the society's public policy. "It can produce adverse mental, emotional, behavioral and physical changes, and contrary to popular notions, it is addictive."

ASAM said not enough is known about the effects of marijuana, yet for some reason people don't seem to mind.

"If physicians were treating patients with other untested substances, there would be a public outcry," Dr. Barthwell said.

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