California Medical Association, the influential lobbying group representing more than 40,000 members statewide, has officially thrown its support behind a proposed November ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana.
The doctors’ endorsement, announced Monday, was more of a formality given that one of the measure’s proponents, Dr. Donald Lyman, helped draft its policy calling for decriminalization of the drug in 2011. The organization has long agitated for full legalization, with some doctors complaining that they’ve grown weary of being gatekeepers for healthy people seeking pot recommendations via a flawed medical marijuana system.
CMA officials, in a statement released by the legalization campaign, which is funded by billionaire venture capitalist Sean Parker and supported by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, said their rationale was twofold: Under a legal market, cannabis could be monitored, researched, regulated and mitigated to protect the public health; and improper diversion by healthy patients into the medical marijuana system could reduced. They stressed they do not encourage marijuana use and discourage smoking.
“The California Medical Association believes the Adult Use of Marijuana Act is a comprehensive and thoughtfully constructed measure that will allow state officials to better protect public health by clarifying the role of physicians, controlling and regulating marijuana use by responsible adults and keeping it out of the hands of children,” Dr. Steven Larson, CMA’s president, said in prepared remarks.
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“Medical marijuana should be strictly regulated like medicine to ensure safe and appropriate use by patients with legitimate health conditions and adult-use marijuana should be regulated like alcohol. This measure – along with the recently-passed medical marijuana bills – will ensure the State of California does both – while keeping the public health and public interest as paramount concerns,” Larson added.