Question of Medical Marijuana Legalization Stirs Controversy in Medical Community

The debate continues over medical marijuana legalization as it reaches Pennsylvania. Senate Bill 1182, a bipartisan bill recently introduced in the state Senate by Sen. Mike Folmer and Sen. Daylin Leach, would legalize marijuana for medical purposes. On Jan 28 PAMED hosted a media call-in to provide a spectrum of viewpoints from several Pennsylvania physicians on the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The panel of physicians included Bruce MacLeod, MD, PAMED President; Tony Stile, MD, a psychiatrist from Pittsburgh; Lee Harris, MD, a neurologist in Abington; and Erik Rupard, MD, an oncologist from Reading.


1. The Pennsylvania Medical Society calls for further adequate and well-controlled studies of marijuana and related cannabinoids in patients who have serious conditions for which preclinical, anecdotal, or controlled evidence suggests possible efficacy and the application of such results to the understanding and treatment of disease.

2. The Pennsylvania Medical Society urges that marijuana’s status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods. This should not be viewed as an endorsement of state-based medical cannabis programs, the legalization of marijuana, or that scientific evidence on the therapeutic use of cannabis meets the current standards for a prescription drug product.
3. The Pennsylvania Medical Society urges the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to implement administrative procedures to facilitate grant applications and the conduct of well-designed clinical research into the medical utility of marijuana. This effort should include: a) disseminating specific information for researchers on the development of safeguards for marijuana clinical research protocols and the development of model informed consent on marijuana for institutional review board evaluation; b) sufficient funding to support such clinical research and access for qualified investigators to adequate supplies of marijuana for clinical research purposes; c) confirming that marijuana of various and consistent strengths and/or placebo will be supplied by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to investigators registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency who are conducting bona fide clinical research studies that receive Food and Drug Administration approval, regardless of whether or not the NIH is the primary source of grant support.

4. The Pennsylvania Medical Society believes that effective patient care requires the free and unfettered exchange of information on treatment alternatives and the discussion of these alternatives between physicians and patients should not subject either party to criminal sanctions.

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