Yesterday the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world, opined in favor of medical marijuana. Dr. Jerome Kassirer, editor-in-chief of NEJM, wrote an editorial in which he sharply criticized the administration's stance. Attached is the press release from Americans for Medical Rights.
SANTA MONICA, January 29 - While the Clinton administration continues to fight medical marijuana in the wake of Proposition 215's passage, the medical community nationwide is waking up to the controversy and siding against the government.
More evidence comes in a new column by the editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Jerome P. Kassirer, who notes that "thousands of patients ... have obtained striking relief" from medical marijuana, and calls the federal government's blocking of medical access to the drug "inhumane."
Kassirer's article in the January 30 edition, "Federal Foolishness and Marijuana," argues that the federal government should reclassify marijuana from the Schedule I to Schedule II, a move that would permit its prescription and regulation for use in medical treatment. Such a move, Kassirer says, would be a more appropriate response to the recent passage of Proposition 215 in California and of a similar measure in Arizona.
Kassirer writes, "I believe that a federal policy that prohibits physicians from alleviating suffering by prescribing marijuana for seriously ill patients is misguided, heavy-handed and inhumane."
Bill Zimmerman, director of Americans for Medical Rights, which sponsored Prop. 215, said, "This article is a complete repudiation of the federal government's response to Prop. 215."
Zimmerman continued, "Drug czar Barry McCaffrey is out of his league when he attacks medical marijuana. He has ridiculed this issue as a 'Cheech and Chong show.' In truth, it is a matter of real concern to medical professionals. McCaffrey has made a bad policy worse, and is now facing the consequences in the form of a rebellion by the medical community."
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