[MMA News Now, March 6, 2014] Two-thirds of the physicians attending an MMA policy forum on medical marijuana do not support the medical marijuana bill before the state Legislature. The event was held in Eagan on March 4, the same day a House committee heard public testimony on the topic and approved the bill. The bill now moves on to the House Government Operations committee.
The Mayo Clinic's J. Michael Bostwick, M.D.
provided both the pros and cons on
Following presentations on both medical marijuana and the Minnesota bill, physicians were asked to answer some questions to help guide the MMA in developing policy on medical marijuana.
• Nearly 70 percent said they either disagreed or strongly disagreed that there is sufficient research to support the legalization of medical marijuana; and
• 61 percent said the benefits of recommending medical marijuana do not outweigh the potential risks.
The MMA does not have a position on medical marijuana and is asking its members to weigh in on the issue in a number of ways, including an online survey. Feedback from the policy forum and the survey will be shared with the MMA Board of Trustees and they will consider policy at their March 15 meeting.
Policy forum attendees heard a presentation by J. Michael Bostwick, M.D., professor of psychiatry at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, who recently published an in-depth article on medical marijuana in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. After sharing his synthesis of the history of and research on medical marijuana, Bostwick said there’s a dearth of scientific research in this country because the U.S. government, “upholding historical biases, has imposed draconian restrictions.” But he also said states are now “caving to political expediency.”
Eric Dick, MMA’s manager of state legislative affairs, outlined key aspects of the bill proposed for Minnesota, including the fact that physicians would be required to perform a full physical examination and assessment of a patient’s medical history and current medical condition before certifying patients for medical marijuana. Patients’ names would be entered into a registry run by the Minnesota Department of Health. Dick pointed out that the bill has supporters and critics on both sides of the political aisle. He also noted that the legislation would likely be revised as it made its way through House and Senate committees.
Following the presentations, a panel of physicians shared their opinions about the risks and benefits of legalizing medical marijuana and took audience questions and comments. Among the concerns voiced were that legalization would lead to increased abuse by youth and more addiction, that it would exacerbate mental illness, and that it would lead to more automobile accidents. Those supporting legalization generally spoke to the relief it might offer patients suffering from certain medical conditions.