Tackling points against medicalization of marijuana

By David G. Evans, Esq.
Executive Director Drug Free Schools Coalition., N.J. USA, July 2005
The U.S. Supreme Court was correct to hold that smoked marijuana is not “medicine.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never approved smoked marijuana as a medicine, and only the FDA has the power to do this. Smoking marijuana is a poor way to deliver a drug. There is no way to titrate the “dose” of smoked marijuana because there is no standardized potency and no way to determine how much is actually being inhaled. In addition, the harmful chemicals and carcinogens that are by products of smoking marijuana create new health problems.

Questions of medicine are for the FDA to answer – not special interest groups, not individuals, not public opinion. Our medical system relies on proven scientific research. Smoked marijuana as medicine has been rejected by the American Medical Association, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the American Glaucoma Society, the American Academy of Opthalmology and the American Cancer Society.1 Recently, the federal Institute of Medicine also conducted research on this issue and they see “little future in smoked marijuana as a medicine.” 2

The major reason the national medical organizations and the FDA reject crude smoked marijuana is that numerous safe and effective FDA approved medicines are available for all the conditions that smoked marijuana allegedly helps. Marijuana legalization advocates would have you incorrectly believe that smoking marijuana is the only alternative for cancer sufferers who are going untreated for the nausea associated with chemotherapy, and for all those who suffer from glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and other ailments. However, numerous effective medications are currently available for these illnesses. 3

Before the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1907, our nation was exposed to a host of patent medicine and “folk remedies.” The major drug in most of these “cures” was alcohol. This is why people reported that they “felt better” as they do with marijuana. Needless to say, these claimed benefits were erratic and not reproducible. Marijuana is intoxicating, so it’s not surprising that sincere people report relief of their symptoms when they smoke it. They may be feeling better – but they are not actually getting better and they may be getting worse due to the effects of marijuana.

Americans have the world’s safest and most effective system of medical practice built on a process of scientific research, testing and oversight. Our investment in medical science is at risk if we do not defend the proven process by which medicines are brought to the market. All drugs must undergo rigorous clinical trials before a drug can be released for public use. Smoked marijuana has not met that test. We should not approve any drug that has not proven to be safe and effective.

Scientific literature shows that use of marijuana is a major risk factor in the development of addiction and drug use among our school children. The efforts to confuse the public about marijuana have contributed to the drop in school children’s perception of marijuana’s harm which results in marijuana and other drug use among school children. Of the nearly 182,000 kids in treatment today, 48% were admitted for abuse or addiction to marijuana while only 19.3% for alcohol and 2.9% for cocaine, 2.4% for methamphetamine and 2.3% for heroin. It is no coincidence that those states with medical marijuana initiatives have among the highest levels of drug use and drug addiction. 4


1. Bonner, R., Marijuana Rescheduling Petitions, 57 Federal Register 10499-10508; Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics v. DEA and NORML v. DEA, 15 F.3d 1131 (D.C. Cir 1994)

2. John A. Benson, Jr., Co-Principal Investigator, in releasing Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 1999.

3. Eric Voth, M.D., FACP, “Medicinal Applications of Marijuana”, Institute on Global Drug Policy of the Drug-Free America Foundation, St. Petersburg, FL. WWW.DFAF.ORG; 2004 Physicians’ Desk Reference, page 3241

4. Clayton, R.R., and Leukefeld, C.G., The prevention of drug use among youth; implications of “legalization”. Journal of Primary Prevention. 1992:12:289-302.; “Non-medical Marijuana: Rite of Passage or Russian Roulette?” July 1999 obtained at website WWW.CASACOLUMBIA.ORG/PUBLICATIONS



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