Pubdate: Tue, 27 Nov 2007
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2007 Southam Inc.
Author: Dr. Joseph Berger


Re: Harper's Misguided War On Pot, editorial, Nov. 23.

Medical research over the past 30 years has demonstrated that 
marijuana is not a harmless recreational drug, but can cause very 
serious medical harm. On the other hand, some people have found it 
useful in relieving some symptoms of pain with certain chronic and 
debilitating illnesses. Given these divergent observations, the 
parliament of the American Psychiatric Association held an extensive 
debate on this matter earlier this month -- the third time in the 
past two years -- at our meeting in Washington.

What most concerned some of my U.S. medical colleagues was that in 12 
states, marijuana may be prescribed for medical reasons according to 
state law, yet both doctor and patient may still be liable to 
prosecution under federal law. After fierce and divisive debate, two 
main resolutions were passed. One encouraged full review of the 
current scientific status of marijuana. The other resolution 
supported the American Medical Association's position that doctors 
and patients not be subject to prosecution in states where marijuana 
can be prescribed for medical reasons.

Unfortunately, within less than a day of our assembly voting in 
favour of these conclusions, a pro-marijuana lobby was announcing 
that the American Psychiatric Association had "unanimously" approved 
the "medical use of marijuana" -- which is completely untrue. This is 
a treacherous area in which almost all public statements --including 
your editorial and my letter -- are likely to be distorted by people 
with various agendas.

Dr. Joseph Berger, Toronto.
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