ASAM Issues Policy Statement On Marijuana And Legalization

By John Lavitt 10/07/15

How far did the association go in its support of legalizing marijuana?

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How far did the association go in its support of legalizing marijuana?
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At the end of September, the American Society of Addiction Medicine's Board of Directors approved a new Policy Statement on Marijuana, Cannabinoids and Legalization. Overseen by ASAM's Public Policy Committee, the new statement is the result of a months-long research and writing process. The goal of the new policy statement was to address the widespread legalization of marijuana and other cannabis products for either "medicinal" or adult recreational use by many states.

Given the shift in public perception and law, it became clear that ASAM needed an updated policy statement that speaks to the broad public health and safety aspects of such measures. With legalization ballot initiatives expected in several states in 2016, the development of this new statement is timely. In addition, as Congress considers bills intended to facilitate research into the potential therapeutic effects of marijuana, the approach towards marijuana and other cannabis products by the medical community needs to be clarified.

Before the specifics of the policy are outlined in the statement, ASAM laid out its goals. “Currently, the legalization of cannabis in some states but not others provides a unique opportunity for a thorough investigation into the societal and public health impact of broader cannabis use. Such research is critical to inform other jurisdictions in how they can best protect and promote public health as they consider the legal status of marijuana use.”

Going against the grain of the current shift, the new ASAM policy recommends a balanced response to legalization efforts, offering limited support for decriminalization and access to medical treatment. It details several public health and safety measures that should be instituted by jurisdictions that legalize marijuana to protect vulnerable populations.

The policy statement also includes recommendations to encourage basic and health services research on marijuana and marijuana use. ASAM strongly recommends that the current research-based pharmaceutical development, approval and regulatory process be stringently applied to marijuana and other cannabis products.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles with his beautiful wife, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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