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NEW: Mass Medical Society Takes Stance on Physician-Assisted Suicide and Medical Marijuana

Monday, September 17, 2012

 

The Massachusetts Medical Society officially declared its opposition to the November ballot questions on physician-assisted suicide and medical marijuana today.

The Society is a statewide professional association of physicians with over 24,000 members. Today, it outlined its reasons for opposing Questions 2 (Prescribing Medication to End Life) and 3 (Medical Use of Marijuana), and indicated that in understood the significance of these questions.

“These are important health care questions for the state,” said Richard Aghababian, M.D., the Society’s president. “And patients deserve to know what we think and where we stand on these issues.”

The Society's opposition statements can be found below.

MMS Opposition to Question 2: Prescribing Medication to End Life

The Society’s stand against Question 2, Dr. Aghababian said, is based on the idea that physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer. He also said that predicting a person’s end of life within six months, as the ballot question states as a requirement, is difficult, as such predictions can be inaccurate. Many times patients who are expected to die within months have outlived their prognosis, sometimes for years.

Dr. Aghababian added that the ballot question also lacks provisions to ensure that patients are protected from making uninformed decisions and protected from being coerced into making the decision to end his or her life.

MMS Opposition to Question 3: Medical Use of Marijuana

The Medical Society clearly stated its opposition to medical marijuana when its House of Delegates adopted its current policy in May at the organization’s annual meeting.

Dr. Aghababian said claims for marijuana’s medical effectiveness have not been scientifically proven because it has not been subjected to the same rigorous, scientific testing as other drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration. He also cited the health risks posed by marijuana, as the contents of marijuana smoke are more poisonous than tobacco smoke and its use has been associated with long-term impairment of mental capacity.

The Society’s policy states that “Until such time that scientific studies demonstrate its safety and efficacy, the Massachusetts Medical Society opposes the legalization of medicinal marijuana and cannot support legislation intended to involve physicians in certifying, authorizing, or otherwise directing persons in the area of medicinal marijuana outside of clinical trials.”

The policy also includes a statement that advocates for the reclassification of marijuana by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration so that its potential medicinal use by humans may be further studied and potentially regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, as well as language that supports the development of non-smoked, reliable delivery systems for cannabis-derived and cannabinoid medications for research purposes.

More information on the Society’s positions on ballot questions is available online here for Question 2 and here for Question 3.

 

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