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2nd Largest US Medical Association Calls for Rescheduling of Cannabis

Sacramento, CA: The American College of Physicians (ACP), the nation’s largest organization of doctors of internal medicine and the second largest medical association in the country, called for easing the federal prohibition of marijuana in a position paper released Friday, February 15. The ACP asked the federal government to review the inclusion of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, a classification it shares with drugs such as heroin and LSD. Schedule I substances are declared to have no medical use and a high potential for abuse by the federal government. Since its inclusion as a Schedule I drug in 1970, the scheduling of cannabis has been constantly challenged. The conflict between federal law and the twelve states where medical cannabis statutes have been enacted have made many doctors avoid recommending medical cannabis as a treatment. Dr. David Dale, president of the ACP, said that contributed to the ACP’s action: “We felt the time had come to speak up about this. …We’d like to clear up the uncertainty and anxiety of patients and physicians over this drug.” Officials at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy panned the ACP’s move. “What this would do is drag us back to 14th century medicine,” said Bertha Madras, the ONDCP deputy director for demand reduction. “With the ACP now supporting rescheduling, the ONDCP can no longer claim that medical cannabis is not supported by science or the practitioners of modern medicine,” NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said in response. With this action, the ACP joins the American Nurses Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and many other medical associations calling for cannabis to be made a legal medicine. For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at: allen@norml.org.

Full text of the ACP policy papers is available in PDF format at: http://www.acponline.org/advocacy/where_we_stand/other_issues/medmarijuana.pdf

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Food from Cloned Offspring Already in the Food Supply

A Kansas cattle producer says that offspring of cloned animals have already entered the food supply. Donald Coover, a cattleman and veterinarian, says that he has sold semen from prize-winning clones to many US meat producers in the past few years, and that others may be doing the same.

“This is a fairy tale that this technology is not being used and is not already in the food chain,” said Coover. “Anyone who tells you otherwise either doesn’t know what they’re talking about, or they’re not being honest.”

Cloned animals are prohibitively expensive for general consumption and are more likely to be used as genetic stock for breeding. Cloned cattle currently cost $15,000 to $20,000 per copy.

US Department of Agriculture officials say that a voluntary market-sale moratorium has been removed from offspring of clones but not from clones themselves.

“I have sold offspring of cloned animals into feedlots, and they are in the food chain,” Coover told the Star-Telegram on Wednesday.

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Pot Use Not Associated With Increased Risk Of Head Or Neck Cancer, Study Says

Wellington, New Zealand: Smoking cannabis, even long-term, is not associated with an increased risk of developing cancers of the head or neck, according to the results of a case control population-based study published in the March issue of the journal Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.

Investigators at the Medical Research Institute in Wellington assessed the relative risk of head and neck cancer associated with marijuana smoking in 75 cases (16 of which reported having used cannabis) and 319 controls. Researchers reported that marijuana use – including chronic use of the drug – was not associated with any increased cancer risk compared to non-using controls.

“This population-based study did not find a statistically significant increase in the risk of head and neck cancer in adults [under age 55] from cannabis,” authors concluded. “[Even] the risk associated with the highest tertile of cannabis use (defined as one joint a day for more than eight years) was not statistically significant after adjustment for cofounding variables including tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, and level of income.”

By contrast, investigators reported that heavy alcohol use was associated with a nearly six-fold increased cancer risk compared to controls.

In February, a parallel study published by the same investigative team reported that subjects who had “ever used” cannabis experienced, on average, no statistically increased risk of lung cancer compared to non-users.

A prior case-control study sponsored by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse of 164 oral cancer patients and 526 controls determined, “The balance of the evidence … does not favor the idea that marijuana as commonly used in the community is a causal factor for head, neck or lung cancer in adults.”

More recently, a 2004 clinical trial performed by investigators at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center reported “no association” between marijuana use and the incidence of oral carcinoma, “regardless of how long, how much or how often a person has used marijuana.”

Most recently, a UCLA study of more than 2,200 subjects (1,212 cases and 1,040 controls) reported that marijuana smoking was not positively associated with cancers of the lung or upper aerodigestive tract – even among individuals who reported smoking more than 22,000 joints during their lifetime.

NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said that the Wellington team’s findings add to the growing body of evidence indicating that smoking cannabis poses a surprisingly low cancer risk compared to the use of tobacco or alcohol. He said: “While studies purporting to uncover alleged harms due to cannabis use receive wide dissemination by the mainstream press, research that fails to find such harms often gets ignored. It will be telling to see if this latest study is the exception or the rule.”

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.

Full text of the study, “Cannabis use and cancer of the head and neck: Case-control study,” appears in Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. Additional information on cannabis and cancer risk is available in the online report, “Cannabis Smoke and Cancer: Assessing the Risk,” at: http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=6891.

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Michigan Medical Marijuana Initiative Certified For November Ballot

Michigan Medical Marijuana Initiative Certified For November Ballot

Lansing, MI: State election officials this week approved a measure for the November 2008 electoral ballot that seeks to legalize the possession and use of cannabis for qualified patients.

Sponsored by the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care, the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act would amend state law to allow authorized patients to use cannabis therapeutically under a doctor’s supervision. Backers of the plan gathered over 300,000 signatures from Michigan voters to place the measure on the upcoming ballot.

Under Michigan law, state lawmakers may preemptively enact the measure, but are unlikely to do so.

Since 2004, five Michigan cities – Ann Arbor, Detroit, Ferndale, Flint, and Traverse City – have each enacted municipal initiatives endorsing the medical use of marijuana.

If enacted by the voters, Michigan will become the thirteenth state since 1996 to authorize the legal use of medical cannabis, and the ninth state to do so by voter initiative.

For more information, please visit the Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care at: http://stoparrestingpatients.org.