On Friday, the Trustees of the California Medical Association, which represents more than 35,000 physicians in the State of California, approved a resolution at their annual meeting calling for the legalization of marijuana. This is the first major medical association in the United States to call for the legalization of marijuana. By taking this position, the association is not saying that there are enough benefits to medical marijuana to justify that it be legalized. They actually state that there are few, if any, benefits to using medical marijuana. Rather, they argue that the consequences of criminalizing marijuana greatly outweigh the hazards. They believe that more research needs to be done to further determine if there are any benefits to medical marijuana and find themselves in a difficult position when they prescribe marijuana because they are violating federal law when they do so. They agree that there are some dangers to using marijuana but those dangers can be addressed by regulating them the way that alcohol and tobacco are regulated. In discussing the hazards of criminalizing marijuana, they point to the increased cost of prosecuting and imprisoning people, the damage this does to families and the racial inequalities that are present when defendants are sentenced.
Not everyone agrees with the California Medical Association including the federal government which considers marijuana to be has bad as any other drug. Recently, the Obama Administration turned down a request to reclassify marijuana under federal drug laws and has started cracking down on medical marijuana facilities in California including threatening to prosecute landlords who allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate out of their properties. There is a slow but steady movement towards trying to legalize marijuana in California. However, last year California voters voted down Proposition 19 which would have legalized the cultivation and possession of small amounts of marijuana while Los Angeles has recently passed regulations affecting medical marijuana dispensaries ordering the closing of hundreds of them.
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