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The California Medical Association (CMA) has called for the legalization of marijuana, although it acknowledges the drug does have some health risks. At its annual meeting on Friday, the group, which represents more than 35,000 doctors, adopted the policy. It is the first major medical organization to urge marijuana legalization, the Los Angeles Times reports.

According to Dr. Donald Lyman, who wrote the policy, his group’s members are frustrated by the state’s medical marijuana law, which allows a patient to use marijuana if he or she has a doctor’s recommendation. Dr. Lyman said many doctors are uncomfortable deciding whether to recommend a drug that is illegal under federal law.

The CMA has said marijuana has few proven health benefits, and notes it wants the Obama Administration to legalize the drug to encourage more research on its medical potential. The group recommends the drug be regulated in a fashion similar to tobacco and alcohol.

In a statement, the CMA says it advocates for the regulation of medical marijuana “to allow for wider clinical research, accountable and quality controlled production of the substance and proper public awareness.” The group says it is also recommending that recreational marijuana be legalized so states can regulate it for purity and safety.

John Lovell, spokesman for the California Police Chiefs Association, responded, “Given everything that we know about the physiological impacts of marijuana — how it affects young brains, the number of accidents associated with driving under the influence — it’s just an unbelievably irresponsible position.”

In July, the U.S. Justice Department announced that medical marijuana dispensaries and licensed growers located in states with medical marijuana laws are not immune from prosecution for violation of federal drug and money-laundering laws. Currently the medical use of marijuana is legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia.

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