Marijuana

Pediatrician Group Says Marijuana Should Be Reclassified

The American Academy of Pediatrics wants to see more study of the plant's medical uses.

|

Jacob Sullum

In a policy statement published today, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reiterates its opposition to marijuana legalization but endorses decriminalization of possession and calls for the drug's reclassification under the Controlled Substances Act to make medical research easier:

The AAP strongly supports research and development of pharmaceutical cannabinoids and supports a review of policies promoting research on the medical use of these compounds. The AAP recommends changing marijuana from a Drug Enforcement Administration schedule I to a schedule II drug to facilitate this research.

That change, which could be carried out by Congress or by the executive branch, would move marijuana out of a category supposedly reserved for drugs with a "high potential for abuse" that have "no currently accepted medical use" and are so dangerous that they cannot be used safely, even under a doctor's supervision. Drugs in Schedule I, which also includes heroin and LSD, cannot be legally used for any purpose. Schedule II, the new category suggested by the AAP, includes prescription drugs such as morphine, oxycodone, cocaine, and methamphetamine, which are viewed as having high abuse potential but legitimate medical uses. 

The AAP joins the American College of Physicians in urging a review of marijuana's legal status. Over the years the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has repeatedly rejected petitions to reschedule marijuana, most recently in 2011. But as The Wall Street Journal notes, the Food and Drug Administration "is conducting an analysis—at the request of the DEA—to determine whether marijuana should be downgraded." Attorney General Eric Holder, who has the statutory authority to reschedule marijuana without new legislation from Congress, has said whether marijuana belongs in the same category as heroin is "certainly a question that we need to ask ourselves." A federal judge in California is considering that question as a result of a challenge brought by marijuana growers in a criminal case I discussed last fall.

Reclassifying marijuana would not automatically make it available as a medicine, but it would have several salutary effects, especially if marijuana is placed in Schedule III or lower. Facilitating research is one possible benefit, although if that is the aim rescheduling should be accompanied by the abolition of the federal government's monopoly on the legal supply of cannabis for research. The AAP does not mention that change, but it makes sense in light of the organization's position that marijuana derivatives should be treated like any other drug considered by the FDA.

In the meantime, are patients who can benefit from marijuana simply out of luck? The AAP seems ambivalent on that question. "The AAP opposes 'medical marijuana' outside the regulatory process of the US Food and Drug Administration," it says. But at the same time, "the AAP recognizes that marijuana may currently be an option for cannabinoid administration for children with life-limiting or severely debilitating conditions and for whom current therapies are inadequate." That means "a pediatrician may recommend marijuana for compassionate medical purposes, on a case-by-case basis, using anecdotal information."

Although the AAP opposes legalization of whole-plant marijuana for medical use, it concedes that the policy, contrary to warnings from drug warriors, has not been accompanied by a rise in underage consumption. "Since legislation allowing medical marijuana took effect across a number of states," the group notes in a technical report accompanying its policy statement, "there have been no significant increases or decreases in youth use rates [as measured by the Youth Risk Behavior Survey], with the exceptions of Alaska [which saw a decrease] and New Mexico….When all high school data are combined for each state in which medical marijuana is legalized and for which data for current use before and after medical marijuana legalization are available (14 states to date), no state with legalized medical marijuana has shown a statistically significant increase in adolescent recreational marijuana use except Delaware; 2 states (Alaska and Montana) have shown statistically significant decreases."

NEXT: Mother ordered not to talk in Spanish to child during her supervised visitation

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Reclassified with extreme prejudice.

  2. It’s a start.

  3. Although the AAP opposes legalization of whole-plant marijuana for medical use, it concedes that the policy, contrary to warnings from drug warriors, has not been accompanied by a rise in underage consumption.

    Which should have been their first clue that they, speaking as pediatricians, need to shut their yaps.

    Yeah, they’re kinda on the right side of this, but not really. They just want to maintain control over pot smoking under a delegation from the feds. And nobody ever gets in trouble over Schedule II, so this is totes better for liberty, amirite?

    1. I think the AAP is well known for being overrun with statists and nannyist morons. They’re practically an arm of the CSPI.

      1. Aren’t they the only group of pediatricians outside of the middle east that supports universal circumcision?

        1. They’ll get my foreskin when they pry it from my cold dead hands.

      2. A certain section of medical opinion, in late years, has succumbed to the messianic delusion. Its spokesmen are not content to deal with the patients who come to them for advice; they conceive it to be their duty to force their advice upon everyone, including especially those who don’t want it. That duty is purely imaginary. It is born of vanity, not of public spirit. The impulse behind it is not altruism, but a mere yearning to run things.

        ~H.L. Mencken

  4. Hrm, you guys think this will kick in fast enough that I should draft Josh Gordon next season?

  5. This past weekend, over 3000 Americans died of Cancer.

    Today, tomorrow, and every day after that, 1,500 more Americans will die, in pain, of Cancer. Every single minute another American dies of Cancer. Every American Cancer patient deserves the right to have safe, legal, and economical access to Medical Marijuana. Every single one.

    Americans who need Medical Marijuana shouldn’t be used as “Political Footballs” Please call the Whitehouse comment line at (202) 456-1111 and ask that the President take immediate action to remove Marijuana from Schedule 1 so American Physicians in all 50 states can prescribe it. There are also two petitions you can sign at petitions.whitehouse.gov — one to remove Marijuana from Schedule 1 and another to legalize it completely.

    Oncologists have know it for more than a quarter of a Century that Marijuana is a “wonder drug” for helping Cancer patients.

    The American Society of Clinical Oncologists wants Marijuana removed from Schedule 1. So does the American Medical Association, the professional society of all Physicians. A strong majority of Americans want Physicians in all 50 states to be able to prescribe Medical Marijuana. So do their Physicians., Cancer patients can’t wait.

    1. “Please call the Whitehouse comment line…”

      Especially if you really, really want a tax audit this year.

    2. I don’t think you’ll find anyone that disagrees with you here- except for believing that calling the whitehouse comment line is the answer.

  6. Don’t anyone tell Bill O’Reilly. He’ll have a cow if he hears what the AAP has done. It goes against every 5th Century belief he holds near and dear to his bigoted heart. AND.. the only way Bill knows anything is if his staff tells him. So everyone just keep your traps shut.

  7. “When all high school data are combined for each state in which medical marijuana is legalized and for which data for current use before and after medical marijuana legalization are available (14 states to date), no state with legalized medical marijuana has shown a statistically significant increase in adolescent recreational marijuana use except Delaware […]”

    I don’t know where those rascally young kids in Delaware are getting all their kind bud but it isn’t leaking out of the state’s medical marijuana program. That program is not up and running yet; the first dispensary is due to open in April.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.