21 Influential Medical Organizations That Support Marijuana Reform

Written by Aimee Kuvadia. This article is part of RYOT’s original series HIGH MINDED: The Changing Perceptions of Cannabis, presented by Leafly.

Despite many states having legalized both medical and recreational cannabis, it persists on the federal level as a Schedule I substance, a drug with no medical value to the public. The 21 reputable medical organizations below oppose marijuana’s current classification, encouraging that its status be changed to a Schedule II substance and/or that it be made available on a compassionate-use basis for patients with a debilitating or life-threatening illness. The sheer number of medical societies supporting cannabis reform is proof that the drug’s pharmaceutical properties merit further investigation.

1. American Medical Association

“The AMA recommend 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 including AIDS wasting syndrome, severe acute or delayed emesis induced by chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, dystonia, and neuropathic pain.” — Council on Scientific Affairs Report #10: Medical Marijuana

2. American Academy of Pediatrics

“A Schedule 1 listing means there’s no medical use or helpful indications, but we know that’s not true because there has been limited evidence showing (marijuana) may be helpful for certain conditions in adults,” Seth Ammerman, a Stanford University clinical professor in pediatrics and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics national committee on substance abuse, who co-authored the new policy statement, told The Wall Street Journal in January.

“By placing this on Schedule 2, it would allow the FDA to be involved (in pediatric research) as the agency is in any study. Unless scheduling changes, this won’t happen. And there could be therapeutic benefits. The AAP is not opposed to medical marijuana, per se, but we feel it’s important that this be explored within the (framework of the) FDA process, where you have standardization.”

3. American Academy of Family Physicians

“Based on much evidence, from patients and doctors alike, on the superior effectiveness and safety of whole cannabis (marijuana) compared to other medicines for many patients — suffering from the nausea associated with chemotherapy, the wasting syndrome of AIDS, and the symptoms of other illnesses … we hereby petition the Executive Branch and the Congress to facilitate and expedite the research necessary to determine whether this substance should be licensed for medical use by seriously ill persons.”

4. New England Journal of Medicine

“Federal authorities should rescind their prohibition of the medical use of marijuana for seriously ill patients and allow physicians to decide which patients to treat. The government should change marijuana’s status from that of a Schedule I drug … to that of a Schedule II drug … and regulate it accordingly.” — “Federal Foolishness and Marijuana” by NEJM editor Dr. Jerome Kassirer, January 30, 1997

5. National Institute on Drug Abuse

“Recent animal studies have shown that marijuana extracts may help kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others. Evidence from one cell culture study suggests that purified extracts from whole-plant marijuana can slow the growth of cancer cells from one of the most serious types of brain tumors. Research in mice showed that treatment with purified extracts of THC and CBD, when used with radiation, increased the cancer-killing effects of the radiation (Scott, 2014).”

6. American Nurses Association

“Therefore be it resolved that the American Nurses Association will: — Support the right of patients to have safe access to therapeutic marijuana/cannabis under appropriate prescriber supervision.”

7. American Society of Addiction Medicine

“ASAM asserts that cannabis, cannabis-based products, and cannabis delivery services be subject to the same standards that are applicable to other prescription medications and medical devices and that these products should not be distributed or otherwise provided to patients unless and until such products or devices have received marketing approval from the Food and Drug Administration.”

8. American Preventive Medical Association

“Marijuana should be available for appropriate medicinal purposes, when such use is in accordance with state law, and that physicians who recommend and prescribe marijuana for medicinal purposes in states where such use is legal, should not be censured, harassed, prosecuted or otherwise penalized by the federal government.”

9. American Public Health Association

“(The APHA) encourages research of the therapeutic properties of various cannabinoids and combinations of cannabinoids, and … urges the Administration and Congress to move expeditiously to make cannabis available as a legal medicine.”

10. National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine

Scientific data indicates the potential therapeutic value of cannabinoid drugs, primarily THC, for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation. … For certain patients, such as the terminally ill or those with debilitating symptoms, the long-term risks (associated with smoking) are not of great concern. … (Therefore,) clinical trials of marijuana for medical purposes should be conducted. … There are patients with debilitating symptoms for whom smoked marijuana might provide relief. … Except for the harms associated with smoking, the adverse effects of marijuana use are within the range of effects tolerated for other medications.”

11. American Osteopathic Association

“The AOA supports well-controlled clinical studies on the use of marijuana and related cannabinoids for patients who have significant medical conditions for which current evidence suggests possible efficacy.”

12. National Institutes of Health Workshop of Medical Utility of Marijuana

“Marijuana looks promising enough to recommend that there be new controlled studies done. The indications in which varying levels of interest was expressed are the following: appetite stimulation/cachexia, nausea and vomiting following anticancer therapy, neurological and movement disorders, analgesia, [and] glaucoma. Accordingly, the NIH should consider relevant administrative mechanisms to facilitate grant applications in each of these areas. Whether or not the NIH is the primary source of grant support for a proposed bona fide clinical research study, if that study meets U.S. regulatory standards … protocol approval, … the study should receive marijuana.”

13. American Medical Student Association

“The American Medical Student Association strongly urges the United States Government … to meet the treatment needs of currently ill Americans by restoring the Compassionate (Investigational New Drug) program for medical marijuana, and … reschedule marijuana to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act, and … end the medical prohibition against marijuana.”

14. The National Nurses Society on Addictions

“The National Nurses Society on Addictions urges the federal government to remove marijuana from the Schedule I category immediately, and make it available for physicians to prescribe. NNSA urges the American Nurses’ Association and other health care professional organizations to support patient access to this medicine.”

15. American Cancer Society

“The American Cancer Society supports the need for more scientific research on cannabinoids for cancer patients, and recognizes the need for better and more effective therapies that can overcome the often debilitating side effects of cancer and its treatment. The Society also believes that the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance by the US Drug Enforcement Administration imposes numerous conditions on researchers and deters scientific study of cannabinoids. Federal officials should examine options consistent with federal law for enabling more scientific study on marijuana.

“Medical decisions about pain and symptom management should be made between the patient and his or her doctor, balancing evidence of benefit and harm to the patient, the patient’s preferences and values, and any laws and regulations that may apply.”

16. National Multiple Sclerosis Society

“The Society supports the rights of people with MS to work with their MS health care providers to access marijuana for medical purposes in accordance with legal regulations in those states where such use has been approved. In addition, the Society supports advancing research to better understand the benefits and potential risks of marijuana and its derivatives as a treatment for MS.”

17. Epilepsy Foundation

“The Epilepsy Foundation supports the rights of patients and families living with seizures and epilepsy to access physician directed care, including medical marijuana. Nothing should stand in the way of patients gaining access to potentially life-saving treatment. If a patient and their healthcare professionals feel that the potential benefits of medical marijuana for uncontrolled epilepsy outweigh the risks, then families need to have that legal option now — not in five years or ten years. For people living with severe uncontrolled epilepsy, time is not on their side. This is a very important, difficult, and personal decision that should be made by a patient and family working with their healthcare team.”

18. American Academy of HIV Medicine

“When appropriately prescribed and monitored, marijuana/cannabis can provide immeasurable benefits for the health and well-being of our patients.”

19. AIDS Action Council

“AIDS Action Council supports the elimination of federal restrictions that bar doctors from prescribing marijuana for medical use by individuals with HIV/AIDS. … AIDS Action Council supports reopening the U.S. Public Health Service’s Investigational New Drug Compassionate Access program to provide access to medical-use marijuana for greater numbers of qualified patients.

20. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

“(T)he Leukemia & Lymphoma Society supports legislation to remove criminal and civil sanctions for the doctor-advised, medical use of marijuana by patients with serious physical medical conditions.”

21. The Arthritis Society

“We firmly believe that it is the responsibility of all stakeholders in the arthritis community — government, licensed producers, health charities and other organizations — to fund research into the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis.”

This post originally appeared on RYOT.

Photo Credit: Mark / Flickr


Peggy B
Peggy Babout a year ago


Jeanne R
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jeanne R
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jeanne R
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jeanne R
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jeanne R
Jeanne Rabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sue H.
Sue H2 years ago

April 2015 article posted October 2016 again. ?? Did we run out of current contributors?

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Maggie Welch
Maggie D3 years ago

Oh, blah, blah, blah. There is an entire generation that used marijuana frequently, why not ask them how it affected their lives. You can obtain marijuana anytime you'd like to and it's less expensive then so called medical marijuana. All of this regulation nonsense is just another way of trying to control our lives. Marijuana is legal in Colorado where I live and it hasn't caused a rise in crime. The positive effects of marijuana far outweigh the negative effects.

Carole R.
Carole R3 years ago

Thanks for the post.