California Medical Association Calls For Marijuana Legalization

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Finally, some not-completely-terrible news from the front lines of America's escalating war on weed: the California Medical Assocation (CMA), which represents 35,000 doctors throughout the state, has just became the nation's first mainstream professional medical group to say marijuana should be legal. And not even because the group thinks marijuana has proven health benefits--in fact, CMA says there's still no evidence to support this notion. Instead, the CMA is effectively arguing (and its timing couldn't be better), that the war on marijuana, medical and otherwise, is itself a health hazard.

Although that addendum--that pot is no more than a "folk remedy"--has angered some medical marijuana activists, it's difficult to overstate how big a shift in public perception of cannabis this news really reflects. Apparently, the group has been listening to its own membership: doctors who are sick and tired of being afraid of breaking the law for recommending that patients smoke something that, while legal for medical purposes in California and 16 other states, remains illegal under federal law.

"It's an uncomfortable position for doctors," the CMA's Dr. Donald Lyman told the Los Angeles Times. "It is an open question whether cannabis is useful or not. That question can only be answered once it is legalized and more research is done. Then, and only then, can we know what it is useful for."

While Lyman told the Times that marijuana has some known harmful effects, that these were no greater than those posed by alcohol or tobacco and that therefore, cannabis should be "regulated along [those] lines" and that the "consequences of criminalization outweigh the hazards.

California Police Chiefs Assocation spokesman John Lovell, who never met a cliche he didn't think was written by Shakespeare, was quick to question the CMA's logic. "I wonder what they're smoking," he offered. (Insert I Love Lucy-era TV audience laughter here). "Given everything that we know about the physiological impacts of marijuana--how it affects young brains, the number of accidents associated with driving under the influence--it's just an unbelievably irresponsible position," he added.

Youre right, Chief Lovell. Alcohol, which is terrible for young brains, and which is responsible for infinitely greater numbers of accidents than marijuana, should be banned immediately. Same thing for cell phones. Nicely played, sir.


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