Cautious, rational approach needed in medical marijuana debate: AMA (WA)

Cautious, rational approach needed in medical marijuana debate: AMA (WA)

Thursday 16 October 2014


Australia needs a national, evidence-based approach to the medical marijuana debate and not rely on anecdotal evidence largely based on emotion, AMA (WA) President Dr Michael Gannon said today.


In an opinion piece in today’s West Australian, Dr Gannon asked the following question: “Why are we relying on the scant knowledge and occasionally complete ignorance of politicians and media commentators when it comes to policies surrounding health care?”


Dr Gannon continues:


“We are standing on shaky ground if we allow our decision about this issue to be driven by commentators using little more than emotion, or politicians using examples of one or two of their constituents who claim to have found pain relief from the use of cannabis,” Dr Gannon said.


“The medicinal use of cannabis is not a simple issue to be decided by politicians on a whim, without review of the evidence. A decision on this must only be made after careful consideration of the scientific evidence available, rather than a political or ideological agenda.


“It is not good enough to assert that you know someone whose child with Epilepsy has ‘improved’ after being given cannabis oil. This is not the world class system of drug licensing that Australia enjoys.


“The AMA (WA) is committed to making sure patients have access to safe and effective treatments. “This includes drugs and medicines that might currently not be legally used.


“Any move to make cannabis available in certain clinical circumstances must be accompanied by a detailed public health education programme to remind the community about the significant risks of cannabis use.


“At various times we do need the passionate views of commentators on important social and medical issues. They can and do move issues forward and simplify issues into easily understood verbal shorthand.


“Ignorance however is very often dangerous. While community support exists for relaxation of the law, there must be no haste to introduce a class of drugs that used in their current form cause significant and in fact growing harm to the community,” Dr Gannon said.

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