Will the AMA Vote Against Self-Interest If I Become A Member?

In an article I wrote last year about the War on Drugs, I quoted the AMA's stance on the government's policy:

(The AMA) encourages the undertaking of comprehensive research into the potential effects, both positive and adverse, of relaxing existing drug prohibitions and controls and, that, until the findings of such research can be adequately assessed, the AMA reaffirm its opposition to drug legalization.

Most Catallarchy readers would agree that there is enough evidence and the AMA is being disingenuous. But I thought I'd be charitable and give members the opportunity to hear the evidence and make their own call. So last fall I emailed my med school's student head of the Kentucky Medical Association and volunteered to give a presentation on the unhealthy and unethical drug war. A few weeks later I got a reply that basically said "we'll think about it and get back with you" (wink, wink). After that - nothin'. No real surprise.

Last month I got a letter from a member of the board of the KMA stating that he would be paying my inaugural membership fee to the AMA. My first thought was "what a great way to build your membership." My second thought was "thanks, but no thanks." There are a lot of reasons for me not to join the AMA, but their implicit and explicit support for the WoD is by far the greatest. So I thought I'd send a letter to my benefactor to explain my position and to possibly ruffle some feathers. Here's most of the text of the letter.

I want to thank you for your generous gesture to pay for my membership to the American Medical Association.

Because of your generosity, I feel that I owe you an explanation as to why I can not accept the offer. I have a very principled belief that our national drug policy is both immoral and ill-considered. Due to the AMA’s official support for the War on Drugs, I can not in good conscience become a member.

One of the chief principles on which our society, and country, are built is the principle of self-ownership. If we can not be said to hold ownership over our own bodies, and we can not claim domain to determine what does and does not go into our bodies, then what do we own and over what can we claim domain? I understand the health concerns that physicians must have with regard to now-illegal drugs; however, this is a far cry from supporting their state prohibition.

Also, I am distressed that the physician establishment has ignored ample evidence as to the harms of prohibition. Numerous economic studies have detailed the costs of prohibition – the resources it consumes, the violence it fosters, the disease it helps spread. It’s unfathomable to me that anyone, and especially the AMA, could observe prohibition’s costs on our health and still support it. If prohibition were a prescription drug, it would never make it through the FDA.

While the AMA claims in its policy statements to be open minded about drug policy, I can only cynically conclude that this is simply lip service – for the harms of prohibition and its lack of respect for human liberty are fairly evident. It seems to me that physicians, as a group, have a vested interest in keeping the status quo, and I am troubled that they would support such policies to protect their interests.

My letter was forwarded to the KMA office and I just received a reply. An excerpt:

Your leter to (name ommitted) in regard to your membership in the American Medical Association was forwarded to our office for follow up. We thank you for sharing your concerns about the AMA drug policy and appreciate your commitment to this position.

It is not unusual for a member to disagree with a particular position taken by the AMA or KMA House of Delegates. These policies, however, are decided by majority vote only after all sides of the issue have been fairly debated. Those with opposing viewpoints are welcome to revisit the issues and to lobby their delegates with persuasive testimony. The voice of the student delegation to the AMA is very strong and the University of Kentucky is fortunate to have effective leadership at the AMA level through (name ommitted) and (name ommitted). If you disagree, then you are encouraged to join so that you can speak out. If you are not a member, you have no voice!

So there you have it folks! You have to first join an organization with immoral policies that go against the ethics of the profession before having a prayer of changing said policies. And then, you only get one vote out of roughly a million. And you would be voting against people who are voting in self-interest. Hmmm...

I suppose the AMA won't change it's drug policy anytime soon. And I suppose I won't be a member of the AMA anytime soon. But I'd be perfectly happy to tell the AMA, free of charge, why they should change this policy.

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Quotable "If [drug]

"If [drug] prohibition were a prescription drug, it would never make it through the FDA." -- Trent McBride, Catallarchy....

Interesting. Using their

Interesting. Using their logic, the US Civil War could have been avoided with a Free State Project by having anti-slavery voters move south and vote slavery out of existence. I wonder why they didn't.

Good post. Damn good.

Good post. Damn good.

Like many other nanny-state

Like many other nanny-state prohibitionist supporters, the AMA's support for drug prohibition is based on an inherently illogical presumption that the United States of America is based on a foundation of positive rights; in other words, that the people begin with zero rights, and the government doles out rights (permission) to do various things.

Thus, they implicitely assert that the onus to end narcotics prohibition is on the side of the anti-prohibitionists to prove that the pragmatic costs of prohibition are greater than the pragmatic costs of ending prohibition.

The problem with this argument is that the concept of a Constitutional Republic is based on negative rights. In other words, the people begin with infinite rights, and a constitution enumerates the specific rights that the government may restrict. So, our rights are subtractive, not additive. Our particular Consitution is based on the concept of restricting your rights when it comes to infringing upon the life, liberty and property rights of other humans. Thus, the onus is on the ones who wish to restrict our god-given rights, to prove that that which they wish to restrict is necessarily an infringement on the life, liberty or property of other humans.

Though, in this day and age, pragmatism has all but completely obscured the idea of negative/inalienable rights & the Constitutional Republic. Which is why the government, as a whole, believes it is their job to give us permission to do certain things.

This is the same AMA that's

This is the same AMA that's in favor of unlimited abortion except for the case of sex selection, when they suddenly realize that unborn women are in fact human (as opposed to dogs, or plants, or the ever-popular 'products of conception'). It's also the same AMA that backs human cloning and fully socialized medicine.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? They don't even know what life is!

Check my blog (interninsanity.blogspot.com) for more...

The WoD...what a godamned

The WoD...what a godamned waste of tax dollars and lives.

Screw the AMA...their only response to you is a marketing ploy.