What Is the History of the AMA, and How Has It Dealt with Medical Marijuana Throughout Its History?


History of the American Medical Association (AMA) and Marijuana
Date The Events
1820 "Eleven physicians meet in Washington, D.C., to establish the 'U.S. Pharmacopoeia,' the first compendium of standard drugs for the United States."
FDA History; U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA Backgrounder, May 3. 1999
1847 "The American Medical Association is founded."
The Schaffer Online Library of Drug Policy, Drug Law Timeline "Founding of AMA at Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia (Founder is Nathan Davis)."
American Medical Association - Chronology of AMA History
1848 "AMA notes the dangers of universal traffic in secret remedies and patent medicine."
American Medical Association - Chronology of AMA History
1849 "AMA establishes a board to analyze quack remedies and nostrums and to enlighten the public in regard to the nature and dangerous tendencies of such remedies."
American Medical Association - Chronology of AMA History
1897 "The AMA is incorporated"
American Medical Association - Chronology of AMA History
1901 "AMA reorganizes, creating the House of Delegates." "The main health policies of the AMA are established by the House of Delegates (HOD). HOD policies are based on professional principles and scientific standards. They represent the consensus viewpoints of many thousands of physicians gained through years of professional practice. HOD policy defines what the Association stands for as an organization. Because these policies generally reflect the positions of physicians in all practice areas, they have permanence about them. Health policies provide the information and guidance that physicians seek from the AMA."
American Medical Association - Chronology of AMA History
1905 "AMA establishes Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry to set standards for drug manufacturing and advertising and fight the war on quack patent medicines and nostrum trade."
American Medical Association - Chronology of AMA History
1913 "AMA establishes a 'Propaganda Department' to gather and disseminate information concerning health fraud and quackery."
American Medical Association - Chronology of AMA History
1936 "Herman Oliphant (general counsel to the Treasury Department) had decided to employ the taxing power [of the federal government, Re: Taxing marijuana out of use], but in a statute modeled after the National Firearms Act and wholly unrelated to the 1914 Harrison [narcotics] Act. Oliphant himself was in charge of preparing the bill. Harry J Anslinger [head of the newly reorganized Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (FBNDD)] directed his men to turn its [anti-marijuana] campaign toward Washington."
Jack HererThe Emperor Wears No Clothes; 11th edition (November 2000) Chapter 4.
1937 "After the Supreme Court decision of March 29, 1937, upholding the prohibition of machine guns through taxation, Herman Oliphant made his move. On April 14, 1937 he introduced the bill [The Marijuana Tax Act] directly to the House Ways and Means Committee instead of to other appropriate committees such as food and drug, agriculture, textiles, commerce, etc. His reason may have been that "Ways and Means" is the only committee that can send its bills directly to the House floor without being subject to debate by other committees. Ways and Means Chairman Robert L. Doughton, a key DuPont ally, quickly rubber-stamped the secret Treasury bill and sent it sailing through Congress to the President."
Jack HererThe Emperor Wears No Clothes; 11th edition (November 2000) Chapter 4.
1937 "William G. Woodward, M.D., who was both a physician and an attorney for the American Medical Association, testified on behalf of the AMA. He said, in effect, the entire fabric of federal testimony [about marijuana] was tabloid sensationalism! No real testimony had been heard! This law [Marijuana Tax Act], passed in ignorance, could possibly deny the world a potential medicine in marijuana, especially now that the medical world was just beginning to find which ingredients in cannabis were active [and potentially useful]. Woodward told the committee that the only reason the AMA hadn't come out against the Marijuana Tax law sooner was that marijuana had been described in the press for 20 years as "killer weed from Mexico." The AMA doctors, said Woodward, had just realized 'two days before' these spring 1937 hearings, that the plant Congress intended to outlaw was known medically as cannabis, the benign substance used in America with perfect safety in scores of illnesses for over one hundred years. "We cannot understand yet, Mr. Chairman," Woodward protested, "why this [marijuana] bill should have been prepared in secret for two years without any intimation, even to the profession, that it was being prepared." He and the AMA" were quickly denounced by Anslinger and the entire congressional committee, and "curtly excused."
Jack HererThe Emperor Wears No Clothes; 11th edition (November 2000) Chapter 4.
1937 When the Marijuana Tax Act bill came up for oral report, discussion, and vote on the floor of Congress, only one pertinent question was asked from the floor: "Did anyone consult with the AMA and get their opinion?" Representative Carl Vinson (D-GA), answering for the Ways and Means Committee replied, "Yes, we have. A Dr. Wharton [mistaken pronunciation of Woodward?] and the AMA are in complete agreement!" "With this memorable lie, the bill passed, and became law in December 1937."
Jack HererThe Emperor Wears No Clothes; 11th edition (November 2000) Chapter 4.
1937 "The Marijuana Tax Act passes and becomes law."
Act of Aug. 2, 1937, Public 238, 75th Congress
1941 "Marijuana is officially removed from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia."
American Medical Association, Report 10 of the Council of Scientific Affairs, 1997
1944 "New York City Mayor LaGuardia's Committee on Marihuana [staffed by physicians who are members of the AMA] notes two possible therapeutic applications of marijuana: 'The first is the typical euphoria-producing action which might be applicable in the treatment of various types of mental depression; the second is the rather unique property which results in the stimulation of appetite.' New York City Mayor LaGuardia's Committee on Marihuana studied 56 morphine and heroin addicts at Riker's Island Penitentiary, N.Y., finding "those who received tetrahydrocannabinols [Marijuana had less severe withdrawal symptoms than those who received no treatment or who were treated with Magendie's solution."
1972 National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse
1945 Harry J. Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (FBNDD) "in public tirade after tirade, denounces Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, the New York Academy of Medicine and the AMA doctors who researched the report." "Anslinger proclaims that these doctors would never again do marijuana experiments or research without his personal permission, or be sent to jail. He then uses the full power of the United States government illegally to halt virtually all research into marijuana while he blackmails the American Medical Association (AMA) into denouncing the New York Academy of Medicine and its doctors for the research they had done. To refute the LaGuardia report, the AMA, at Anslinger's personal request, conducts a 1944-45 study, which reports; "of the experimental group 34 were negroes and one was white" (for statistical control) who smoked marijuana, became disrespectful of white soldiers and officers in the segregated military."
Jack HererThe Emperor Wears No Clothes; 11th edition (November 2000) Chapter 4.
1971 "First edition of AMA Drug Evaluations published, a source of comparative evaluative information on drug therapy."
American Medical Association - Chronology of AMA History
1978 "AMA develops national policy endorsing hospice care to enable the terminally ill to die in a more homelike environment."
American Medical Association - Chronology of AMA History
1985 "AMA encourages continuing research and studies concerning AIDS." and "AMA requests adequate government funding for research on AIDS."
American Medical Association - Chronology of AMA History
1986 "AMA passes resolution opposing acts of discrimination against AIDS patients and any legislation that would lead to such categorical discrimination or that would involve patient-physician confidentiality." and "AMA provides professional guidelines relating to a physician's personal, clinical and public conduct relating to AIDS."
American Medical Association - Chronology of AMA History
1987 "AMA outlines a comprehensive approach for the prevention and control of AIDS and adopts an AIDS public awareness and information program."
American Medical Association - Chronology of AMA History
1989 "AMA recommends confidential HIV testing be readily available to all who wish to be tested."
American Medical Association - Chronology of AMA History
1989 The AMA policy on marijuana stated:
"The AMA opposes legalization of the sale and possession of marijuana, and recommends that it be prohibited for public use and also supports the modification of state laws to reduce the severity of penalties for possession of marijuana. The AMA recommends that personal possession of insignificant amounts be considered a misdemeanor and advocates increased research into the effects of marijuana."
1989 - American Medical Association
1990 The AMA policy stated:
"The AMA has long supported the principle that Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of a new drug must be based on sound scientific and medical evidence derived from controlled trials and that social and economic concerns per se should not play a significant role in the FDA's decision-making process as it relates to either general or product-specific drug regulation."
1990 - American Medical Association
1995
June
Lester Grinspoon, M.D. stated in a June 1995 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, "urging doctors to reconsider marijuana, to take a lesson from their 19th century forbearers who used marijuana as a medicine, and to reconsider its usefulness in a modern light."
Lester Grinspoon, M.D.
1995 "AMA encourages Office of Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of alternative therapies."
American Medical Association - Chronology of AMA History
1996
Dec. 30
An official AMA statement released by Daniel H. Johnson, Jr., MD, President, American Medical Association:
"We urge federal funding of research to determine the validity of marijuana as an effective medical treatment. Right now the California and Arizona initiatives are in direct conflict with federal law. The AMA urges physicians to prescribe effective, legal medications available to compassionately treat disease and relieve pain."
American Medical Association - Chronology of AMA History
1996
Dec
Report 10 of the Council on Scientific Affairs (AMA) prepared a new report on medical marijuana, with a new resolution, accepted by the AMA at their December meeting. The resolution stated:
"The AMA believes that effective patient care requires the free and unfettered exchange of information on treatment alternatives and that discussion of these alternatives between physicians and patients should not subject either party to criminal sanctions. The AMA recommends that adequate and well-controlled studies of smoked marijuana be conducted in patients who have serious conditions for which preclinical, anecdotal, or controlled evidence suggests possible efficacy in eluding AIDS wasting syndrome, severe acute or delayed emesis induced by chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, dystonia, and neuropathic pain."
American Medical Association - Report 10 of the Council on Scientific Affairs
1998 "Through an educational grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the AMA Institute for Ethics' Educating Physicians on End-of-Life Care (EPEC) initiated its program to provide training to practicing physicians on the core skills needed to provide quality end-of-life care launches a new educational and policy campaign by publishing 'Expanding Access to Insurance Coverage for Health Expenses: An AMA Proposal'"
American Medical Association - Chronology of AMA History
1999 "The AMA sponsored Pain Relief Promotion Act of 1999 passed into federal law, reaffirming a physician's ability to aggressively manage patient discomfort during end-of-life care."
American Medical Association - Chronology of AMA History
2001
June
The AMA's Council on Scientific Affairs sent a report to the AMA House of Delegates:
"Until such time as rapid-onset cannabinoid [marijuana] formulations are clinically available, our AMA affirms the appropriateness of compassionate use of marijuana and related cannabinoids in carefully controlled programs designed to provide symptomatic relief of nausea, vomiting, cachexia, anorexia, spasticity, acute or chronic pain, or other palliative effects. Such compassionate use is appropriate when other approved medications provide inadequate relief or are not tolerated, and the protocols provide for physician oversight and a mechanism to assess treatment effectiveness."
American Medical Association - Council on Scientific Affairs
2001
June 19
American Medical Association's House of Delegates rejected the committee's June 2001 report (above) that would have urged the organization to consider of compassionate use of medical marijuana for cancer patients and others. Council on Scientific Affairs (CSA) had inserted the concept of compassionate use of medical marijuana into its recommendations, but the committee on public health rejected those changes. Without debate, the House of Delegates approved the report without the mention of compassionate marijuanause. Herman Abromowitz, MD, a family physician in Dayton, Ohio, and a member of AMA's Board of Trustees, stated to the press at the time [June, 2001]: "There just is no scientific evidence to establish the effectiveness of marijuana."
American Medical Association - Council on Scientific Affairs
2001
June 19
The AMA's position on medical marijuana is released as follows:
  • "The AMA calls for further adequate and well-controlled studies of marijuana and related cannabinoids in patients who have 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.
  • The AMA recommends that marijuana be retained in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act pending the outcome of such studies.
  • The AMA urges the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to implement administrative procedures to facilitate grant applications and the conduct of well-designed clinical research into the medical utility of marijuana. This effort should include:
    1. disseminating specific information for researchers on the development of safeguards for marijuana, clinical research protocols and the development of a model for informed consent on marijuana for institutional review board evaluation;
    2. sufficient funding to support such clinical research and access for qualified investigators to adequate supplies of marijuana for clinical research purposes;
    3. confirming that marijuana of various and consistent strengths and/or placebo will be supplied by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to investigators registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency who are conducting bona fide clinical research studies that receive Food and Drug Administration approval, regardless of whether or not the NIH is the primary source of grant support.
  • The AMA believes that the NIH should use its resources and influence to support the development of a smoke-free inhaled delivery system for marijuana or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to reduce the health hazards associated with the combustion and inhalation of marijuana.
  • The AMA believes that effective patient care requires the free and unfettered exchange of information on treatment alternatives and that discussion of these alternatives between physicians and patients should not subject either party to criminal sanctions."
American Medical Association - Council on Scientific Affairs
Nov. 10, 2009 The AMA adopted a new policy urging the US federal government to "review" marijuana's status in Schedule I vs. "retain" it in Schedule I as the AMA had formerly recommended. The new policy stated:
"Our AMA urges that marijuana's status as a federal 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. 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 a prescription drug product."
"AMA Policy: Medical Marijuana,"