GMA Opposes Medicinal Marijuana Bill

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Guam – No representatives from the Guam medical Association turned out for the Thursday evening hearing on the medicinal marijuana bill, but GMA did submit written testimony opposing the measure.

This was the second public hearing on Bill #215 which was introduced by Senator Tina Muna-Barnes and co-sponsored by Senator Aline Yamashita.

The written testimony was submitted by GMA Executive Director Pram Sullivan and it states that the Board of the GMA is “unable to support Bill 215-32 as written.”

Among the points GMA makes in opposition to the bill are: 

• The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) have stated that “Organizer behind the “medical” marijuana movement have not dealt with ensuring that the product meets the standards of modern medicine: quality, safety and efficacy.

• The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) has stated that it could not recommend medical marijuana be made widely available for people with multiple sclerosis for symptom management, explaining: “This decision was not only based on existing legal barriers to its use but, even more importantly, because studies to date do not demonstrate a clear benefit

• The American Glaucoma Society (AGS) has stated that “although marijuana can lower the intraocular pressure, the side effects and short duration of action, coupled with the lack of evidence that its use alters the course of glaucoma, preclude recommending this drug in any form for the treatment of glaucoma at the present time.”

 

• The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) believes that “any change in the legal status of marijuana, even if limited to adults, could affect the prevalence of use among adolescents.”

READ GMA’s testimony opposing Bill #215 below:

Dec. 12, 2013

Honorable Senator Dennis Rodriguez
Chair Committee on Health & Human Services
32nd Guam Legislature
Via Email and Fax
SUBJ: Opposition to Bill No. 215-32

Dear Honorable Senator Dennis Rodriguez and Members of the Guam Legislature:

The Guam Medical Association is the largest association of professional health care providers on island. An integral part of our mission is to advocate for public health and for patients. The Board of the GMA met. On behalf of the officers and members, we are unable to support Bill 215-32 as written.

Although we acknowledge that the intent of the bill is to help patients, Bill No. 215-32 has instead caused confusion for the general public and patients, leading them to believe that the diseases, which they are affected, can be either cured or alleviated when the scientific facts may not support their efficacy. Citing credible national organizations on this issue:

• The American Society of Addiction Medicine’s (ASAM) public policy statement on “Medical Marijuana,” clearly rejects smoking as a means of drug delivery. ASAM further recommends that “all cannabis, cannabis-based products and cannabis delivery devices should be subject to the same standards applicable to all other prescription medication and medical devices, and should not be distributed or otherwise provided to patients …” without FDA approval. ASAM also “discourages state interference in the federal medication approval process.” ASAM Public Policy on “Medical Marijuana.”

• The American Medical Association (AMA) has always endorsed “well-controlled studies of marijuana and related cannabinoids in patients with serious conditions for which preclinical, anecdotal, or controlled evidence suggests possible efficacy and the application of such results to the understanding and treatment of disease.” In November 2009, the AMA amended its policy, urging that marijuana’s status as a Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed “with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods.” The AMA also stated, “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 prescription drug product.” Policy H-95.952 ‘Medical Marijuana.” American Medical Association, Report 3 of the Council on Science and Public Health Use of Cannabis for Medicinal Purposes.

• The American Cancer Society (ACS) “does not advocate inhaling smoke, nor the legalization of marijuana,” although the organization does support carefully controlled clinical studies for alternative delivery methods, specifically a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) skin patch. “Experts: Pot Smoking Is Not Best Choice to Treat Chemo Side-Effects.” American Cancer Society.

• The American Glaucoma Society (AGS) has stated that “although marijuana can lower the intraocular pressure, the side effects and short duration of action, coupled with the lack of evidence that its use alters the course of glaucoma, preclude recommending this drug in any form for the treatment of glaucoma at the present time.” “American Glaucoma Society Position Statement: Marijuana and the Treatment of Glaucoma.” Jampel, Henry MD. MHS, Journal of
Glaucoma: February 2010- Volume 19-Issue 2

• The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) believes that “any change in the legal status of marijuana, even if limited to adults, could affect the prevalence of use among adolescents.” While it supports scientific research on the possible medical use of cannabinoids as opposed to smoked marijuana, it opposes the legalization of marijuana. Committee on Substance Abuse and Committee on Adolescence. “Legalization of Marijuana: Potential Impact on Youth.” Pediatrics.
See also, Joffe, Alain, MD, MPH, and Yancy, Samuel, MD. “Legalization of Marijuana: Potential Impact on Youth.” Pediatrics.

• The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) has stated that it could not recommend medical marijuana be made widely available for people with multiple sclerosis for symptom management, explaining: “This decision was not only based on existing legal barriers to its use but, even more importantly, because studies to date do not demonstrate a clear benefit compared to existing symptomatic therapies and because side effects, systemic effects, and long-term
effects are not yet clear.” “Recommendations Regarding the Use of Cannabis in Multiple Sclerosis: Executive Summary.” National Clinical Advisory Board of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Expert Opinion Paper, Treatment Recommendations for Physicians.

• The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) have stated that “Organizer behind the “medical” marijuana movement have not dealt with ensuring that the product meets the standards of modern medicine: quality, safety and efficacy. There is no standardized composition or dosage; no appropriate prescribing information; no quality control; no accountability for the product; no safety regulation; no way to measure its effectiveness (besides anecdotal stories); and
no insurance coverage. Science, not popular vote, should determine what medicine is.”

The Guam Medical Association Members will further discuss this issue in the future, and we want to work with the legislature to ensure patients receive the treatments they need based on evidenced based medicine.

Sincerely,
Pram Sullivan
GMA Executive Director
By direction of the board
Cc: 32nd