Group comprises 7 State Medical Associations with more than 180,000 physician and student members
NORTH HAVEN, CT -- With pressure mounting on state legislatures across the country to legalize recreational marijuana, a coalition of eight* state Medical Societies is calling for thoughtful and thorough consideration before rushing to legislate.
“This is a public health issue, not a tax issue,” said Thomas Madejski, MD, immediate past president of the Medical Society of the State of New York. “It’s ludicrous to prioritize increased state revenue against increased hospital visits. The health of our citizens is at stake here.”
Indeed, data from states that have legalized recreational marijuana shows an increase in car accidents and an increase in teen use.
The American Medical Association (AMA) stands with the state coalition in expressing concern about legalization of cannabis for recreational use. James Madara, MD, executive vice president and CEO of the AMA recently sent a letter to New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins urging her to “delay initiating the legalization of cannabis for recreational (non-medicinal) use until further research is completed on the public health, medical, economic and social consequences of its use.”
The coalition is urging Congress to re-classify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II so that necessary research can be performed to better inform states considering these proposals. As a Schedule II drug, government funding can be sought for necessary research that clearly defines the positive and negative elements of marijuana use.
“One of our chief concerns is the lack of sufficient research and clinical study upon which legislators and voters are approaching this issue,” said the Connecticut State Medical Society (CSMS) President, Claudia Gruss, MD. “A major contributing factor is that marijuana continues to have a schedule I classification by the federal government, which significantly limits the comprehensive research that can be performed to inform physician and consumer decision-making.”
A final concern involves the worsening of the current mental health and substance abuse crisis enveloping the country.
“We have seen a relentless push by wealthy Wall Street Venture Capitalists to create a new addiction industry to extract profits from all our communities but especially those already experiencing socioeconomic challenges,” said Dr. Madejski. “They are particularly devious in hiding their true intentions with legitimate arguments to redress inequities in social justice and health care disparities. Redressing these inequities does not require expanding use of a substance with well documented harms to our vulnerable populations, particularly with regards to accidental deaths, substance abuse disorders and severe mental health issues.”
*Coalition of State Medical Societies consists of Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Ohio