AMA Declares “War on Drugs” a “failure,” Still Opposes Marijuana

On November 19, 2013, the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates voted to continue in its opposition to efforts to legalize marijuana, despite recognizing that the so-called “war on drugs” has been a national failure.

A committee report to the delegates was even stronger in its condemnation of federal enforcement efforts. “Federal drug polices over the past 40 years,” it noted, “have not accomplished their objectives.” The committee report continued, “Policies should move away from arrest and incarceration of drug users by addressing drug misuse, addiction, and overdose through a public health framework, expanding access to treatment and redirecting law enforcement resources to prevent serious and violent crime.”

Nonetheless, the delegates reaffirmed the long-standing policy of opposition to drug legalization, including marijuana, at least for the time being. Recognizing state-based legalization efforts in Colorado and Washington, the delegates recommended “comprehensive review” of the risks and benefits of such efforts. Until the results of such studies are available, the AMA rejected a committee recommendation that personal possession of insignificant amounts of marijuana be considered no more serious than a misdemeanor. Instead, the delegates concluded that any lessening of the classification of marijuana as a federal schedule 1 controlled substance (the most serious classification available) be put off to another day.

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