Doctors in the United States have given their endorsement for marijuana to be used for medical purposes.
The American College of Physicians (ACP), the second-largest doctors group in the U.S., is calling for the government to withdraw the prohibited use of marijuana in treating patients.
The prominent doctors group says there is ample research supporting its medical applications and it is valuable in treating severe weight loss in AIDS patients, and the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy in cancer patients.
The group has issued a policy statement on medical marijuana which was approved by its governing body, and says research needed to clarify marijuana's therapeutic properties and determine standard and optimal doses and routes of delivery has been hindered by a complex federal approval process, a limited availability of research-grade marijuana and the debate over legalization.
The American College of Physicians is based in Philadelphia and was founded in 1915, it has 124,000 members.
The policy statement says the ACP encourages the use of non smoked forms of Tetrahydrocannabinol (the main psychoactive element in marijuana) that have proven therapeutic value and supports research into additional therapeutic uses of marijuana.
Marijuana is banned by the federal government as a so-called schedule I controlled substance, the same status shared with drugs such as LSD and heroin.
The ACP wants the government to review marijuana's status because of the scientific evidence of its safety and efficacy for some medical conditions.
The ACP is also calling for doctors who prescribe or dispense medical marijuana to be exempt from federal criminal prosecution and other actions and also wants protection from criminal penalties for patients who use medical marijuana as permitted under state laws.
To date only 12 states have laws allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes but supporters of medical marijuana accuse the federal government of undermining those state laws by having Drug Enforcement Administration agents raid medical marijuana providers.