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Doctors Launch Pro-Legalization Advocacy Group

Breaking away from the American Medical Association’s official position, a group of more than 50 physicians have formed Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, endorsing adult recreational use of marijuana.

The group is founded by David L. Nathan, an associate professor at Rutgers’ Robert Johnson Medical School and American Psychiatric Association fellow, and includes former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, who served under the Clinton Administration.

“Doctors should affirmatively support this,” Nathan said in a Washington Post report. “If you’re going to make something against the law, the health consequences of that use have to be so bad to make it worth creating criminal consequences. That was never true of marijuana. It was banned in 1937 over the objections of the American Medical Association.”

When cannabis was banned in 1937, it was still being used to treat some medical conditions. At the time the AMA was concerned that outlawing marijuana would “deprive the public of the benefits of a drug that on further research may prove to be of substantial value.”

Recently the AMA has publicly encouraged researching the medical benefits of cannabis, calling on the Drug Enforcement Agency and Food and Drug Administration to create a “special schedule and implement administrative procedures” to allow grant applications and conduct clinical research trials.” The association, however, does not support state-based medical programs or legalization.

“We want to build a group of physicians who are going to be out in the public making the case for marijuana legalization to physicians, medical associations and the public at large,” Nathan said.

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