Adolescents Use of Cannabis Causes Concern

Doctors Warn of the Hazards of So-called Medical Marijuana Former Federal Official Calls Legislation a 21st Century Trojan Horse

Washington, DC (5/4/05) – Members of the medical community and a respected former official of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration responded with deep concern to legislation introduced in Congress today, intended to legalize a dangerous and harmful drug. Calling the debate on legalizing crude, so-called medical marijuana a 21st century Trojan horse designed to ultimately lead to the legalization of a hazardous drug, members of the medical community and a respected former official of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration challenged Congress and everyday Americans to reject this dangerous ploy.

“Beyond the issue of smoke being an inherently unhealthy drug delivery system, smoked marijuana contains an unquantified mix of thousands of poorly understood chemicals that cannot pass muster as a modern medicine. Doctors need to be able to prescribe precise amounts of specific chemicals to treat specific illnesses for a substance to be considered a modern medicine,” according to Dr. Robert DuPont, President of the Institute for Behavior and Health and a practicing psychiatrist and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School.

“The drug approval system in the US today is based on careful, scientific demonstration of safety and efficacy. Approving “medicines” by legislation or ballot initiatives is a dangerous rejection of the lifesaving drug approval system that is relied upon not only in the United States but throughout the world,” DuPont added. “So-called medical marijuana can never pass medical muster for one reason, it is not safe. Legalizing it as a drug will set the clock of modern medicine back to a time when, as a young country, Americans were exposed to a host of often benign and sometimes deadly medical “cure-alls” sold from the back of a horse-drawn cart,” according to Dr. Eric Voth, an Internal Medicine and Addiction Medicine Specialist and an internationally recognized expert on various aspects of drug abuse, pain management, and appropriate prescribing practices.

“As physicians, we sympathize with the well-intentioned patients who believe using crude, so-called medical marijuana is in their best interest. Let there be no mistake, for every symptom of every illness, there is a better medicine, a better therapy than crude, so-called medical marijuana,” Voth continued. “Crude marijuana should not be considered under any circumstance because it is unsafe for use, even under medical supervision,” Voth added.

“Since when is burning leaves good medicine? In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been deciding what is safe and efficacious for over 50 years,” according to Peter Bensinger, former administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. “The FDA, World Health Organization, United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs and a host of other health organizations including the American Cancer Society oppose crude smoked marijuana as a medicine. And rightly so,” he continued.

“The push for legalized crude so-called medical marijuana is part of a strategy by a group called the Marijuana Policy Project, whose goal is to legalize marijuana,” Bensinger said. “Make no mistake, the issue of so-called medical marijuana is a Trojan horse for legalizing the drug itself and for making it available without regard to medical science,” he added.

Marijuana is harmful and illegal, not only in the United States but in 138 different countries. “The dangers of embracing crude so-called medical marijuana are most serious in terms of health, public policy, medicine, treaty obligations and the message it sends to our children and young adults, who fortunately in the past few years have used less marijuana than before,” Bensinger continued. “The risks of marijuana are being increasingly recognized by young people as well as by the scientific community. Let’s not fall into the trap that crude so-called medical marijuana represents,” he concluded.

Facts about Marijuana:

• Of the 7.1 million Americans suffering from illegal drug dependence or abuse, 60% are dependent on or are abusing marijuana. (National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2003)

• More young people are now in treatment for marijuana dependency than for alcohol or for all other illegal drugs combined. (SAMHSA Treatment Episode Data Set 2000)

• In fact, young people under 26 represent 55% of the overall dependent or abusing population. (National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2003)

• Of all teenagers in drug treatment, about 62% had a primary marijuana diagnosis in 2000. (SAMHSA Treatment Episode Data Set 2000)

Source: Press Release cited by Center for Effective Drug Abuse Research & Statistics May 2005. email:
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