American Osteopathic Association Voices Support for Marijuana Reclassification

The organization considers rescheduling marijuana to Schedule II crucial for cannabis research efforts.

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) believes that cannabis should be reclassified under United States federal law. In a new resolution approved by the AOA House of Delegates, the representative member organization for more than 137,000 osteopathic physicians and medical students argues that rescheduling marijuana as a Schedule II substance is necessary for facilitating more research.

“As a growing number of states change laws to facilitate the use of medical cannabis, it is important that we have a strong foundation of research that can support evidence-based policies,” said AOA President William S. Mayo, DO.

“Given the proven efficacy at treating certain symptoms, reclassification would reduce barriers and increase our understanding of how to safely and effectively use cannabinoid drugs for our patients, many of whom do not respond to other treatments.”

Under the Controlled Substances Act, cannabis is classified as a Schedule I substance, the most restrictive of the categories that is reserved for substances with no accepted medicinal properties and a high risk of addiction.

This classification creates financial and logistical obstacles for researchers. As a Schedule I substance, cannabis that is used in clinical trials requires approval from the Food & Drug Administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In a resolution passed at the AOA’s Annual House of Delegates Meeting in Chicago in July, the AOA points out that 30 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation to legalize medical marijuana when recommended by a doctor. It also calls attention to a recent study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that found “conclusive or substantial evidence” of cannabis’s various therapeutic properties.

“This new policy is recognition of an evolving landscape and the need to support evidence-based policies that serve the needs of our patients,” added Mayo. “We call on Congress to end the restrictions placed on medical cannabis research by appropriately reclassifying the drug.”

The AOA serves as the certifying body for osteopathic physicians and the accrediting agency for osteopathic medical schools. It also promotes public health and encourages scientific research.

Efforts to Reschedule Marijuana

The AOA is the latest organization to call for rescheduling marijuana. The American Legion has repeatedly urged the White House to reschedule marijuana to allow for more research into its potential therapeutic benefits for Veterans. The American Veterinary Medical Association recently approved a resolution to begin exploring how to advocate for cannabis reform to facilitate research opportunities for both human and veterinary applications.

Scientists from Salk Institute, a renowned biomedical research facility in California, have said they believe they could find a cannabis-based Alzheimer’s disease cure if cannabis were to be rescheduled so they could conduct the studies they needed.

Various federal lawmakers have introduced cannabis legislation this year. Earlier this summer, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced a bill to remove marijuana from the federal controlled substances list altogether. The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act would allow individual states to decide how cannabis should be regulated while also easing restrictions for interested cannabis researchers.

What Cannabis Research Has Found

Despite current regulatory restrictions inhibiting researchers, there have been thousands of studies that have investigated cannabis and its medicinal potential. You can learn more about their findings through our education page.