AMA SOFTENS STANCE ON MARIJUANA

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The American Medical Association changed its position on marijuana this week, saying that cannabis' classification as a controlled substance should be reviewed "with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods."

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Marijuana reform activists received this bit of promising news just as Scene was going to print with an article about medical marijuana in Ohio ("Smokescreen"). Cher Neufer, a Lodi-based activist and spokeswoman for Ohio NORML, hails the announcement as a "baby step" toward greater reform.

The medical association, until this week, had maintained that cannabis should remain a Schedule I drug (alongside heroin, PCP and LSD) under the Controlled Substance Act. The association says its policy change isn't an endorsement of state medical marijuana programs.

However, Neufer says the change gives marijuana reform opponents one less weapon in the war on pot. Drug warriors have always pointed to the AMA's stance when arguing against reform. "Now the AMA has changed its tune, and that's a good thing," Neufer says.

The Marijuana Policy Project, a national advocacy group, called the AMA's announcement "historic," saying marijuana's Schedule I status is "scientifically untenable" and "an obstacle to needed research," according to a statement.

The AMA isn't the first medical organization to question the federal classification. The American College of Physicians and the American Nurses Association have expressed support for medical marijuana research, says Rob Ryan, of the Ohio Patient Network, a state medical marijuana advocacy group. — Damian Guevara

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