The American Medical Association on their meeting on 8-10 November in Houston voted to reverse its long-held position that marijuana be retained as a Schedule I substance with no medical value. Schedule I is the only classification of controlled substances that may not be prescribed by a physician. The Medical Association adopted a report drafted by its Council on Science and Public Health entitled, “Use of Cannabis for Medicinal Purposes,” which affirmed the therapeutic benefits of cannabis and called for further research.
This report concluded that, “short term controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.” The resolution says that the Medical Association “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. 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.”
(Sources: Website of the American Medical Association, Americans for Safe Access, UPI of 10 November 2009)
“Did Anyone Consult the AMA?”
However, even within his controlled Committee hearings, many expert witnesses spoke out against the passage of these unusual tax laws.
Dr. William C. Woodward, for instance, who was both a physician and an attorney for the American Medical Association, testified on behalf of the AMA.
He said, in effect, the entire fabric of federal testimony was tabloid sensationalism! No real testimony had been heard! This law, passed in ignorance, could possibly deny the world a potential medicine, especially now that the medical world was just beginning to find which ingredients in cannabis were active.
Woodward told the committee that the only reason the AMA hadn’t come out against the marijuana tax law sooner was that marijuana had been described in the press for 20 years as “killer weed from Mexico.”
The AMA doctors had just realized “two days before” these spring 1937 hearings, that the plant Congress intended to outlaw was known medically as cannabis, the benign substance used in America with perfect safety in scores of illnesses for over one hundred years.
“We cannot understand yet, Mr. Chairman,” Woodward protested, “why this bill should have been prepared in secret for two years without any intimation, even to the profession, that it was being prepared.” He and the AMA* were quickly denounced by Anslinger and the entire congressional committee, and curtly excused.3
* The AMA and the Roosevelt Administration were strong antagonists in 1937.
When the Marijuana Tax Act bill came up for oral report, discussion, and vote on the floor of Congress, only one pertinent question was asked from the floor: “Did anyone consult with the AMA and get their opinion?” Representative Vinson, answering for the Ways and Means Committee replied, “Yes, we have. A Dr. Wharton [mistaken pronunciation of Woodward?] and [the AMA] are in complete agreement!”
With this memorable lie, the bill passed, and became law in December, 1937. Federal and state police forces were created, which have incarcerated hundreds of thousands of Americans, adding up to more than 16 million wasted years in jails and prisons – even contributing to their deaths – all for the sake of poisonous, polluting industries, prison guards unions and to reinforce some white politicians’ policies of racial hatred
(Mikuriya, Tod, M.D., Marijuana Medical Papers, 1972; Sloman, Larry, Reefer Madness, Grove Press, 1979; Lindesmith, Alfred, The Addict and the Law, Indiana U. Press; Bonnie & Whitebread; The Marijuana Conviction, U. of VA Press; U.S. Cong. Records; et al.)
3. Bonnie, Richard & Whitebread, Charles, The Marijuana Conviction, Univ. of Virginia Press, 1974; Congressional testimony, 1937 (See full testimony in Appendix); et al.