Friday, April 21, 2006

FDA Issues Advisory on Smoked Medical Marijuana

Am I the only one who noticed that the FDA made a statement denying the medicinal effect of smoked marijuana on 4/20? Just because of that, I knew it had to be a piece of political theatre. And it was. The most telling part of the press release is at the end, where the FDA is definitely reminding everyone who's boss:

A growing number of states have passed voter referenda (or legislative actions) making smoked marijuana available for a variety of medical conditions upon a doctor's recommendation. These measures are inconsistent with efforts to ensure that medications undergo the rigorous scientific scrutiny of the FDA approval process and are proven safe and effective under the standards of the FD&C Act. Accordingly, FDA, as the federal agency responsible for reviewing the safety and efficacy of drugs, DEA as the federal agency charged with enforcing the CSA, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, as the federal coordinator of drug control policy, do not support the use of smoked marijuana for medical purposes.

Scientifically, I'm on their side. I've never seen much more than anecdotal evidence that supports smoking marijuana for medical use. Of course, the government's stranglehold on the testing and research of medical marijuana would account for the lack of hard data on the subject. More research should be done to examine the possible use of marijuana. And it should be conducted by a non-governmental, non-politicized institution.

The basic point of this release is obviously political. One group of people has decided that other people should not be allowed to indulge in a mild vice, even if they are deathly ill.

And the Washington Post reports:

The statement contradicts a 1999 finding from the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, which reported that "marijuana's active components are potentially effective in treating pain, nausea, the anorexia of AIDS wasting and other symptoms, and should be tested rigorously in clinical trials."

Bruce Mirken, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, said Thursday: "If anybody needed proof that the FDA has become totally politicized, this is it. This isn't a scientific statement; it's a political statement."

Mirken said "a rabid congressional opponent of medical marijuana," Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., asked the FDA to make the statement.

Souder, chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on drug policy, has said the promotion of medical marijuana "is simply a red herring for the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Studies have continually rejected the notion that marijuana is suitable for medical use because it adversely impacts concentration and memory, the lungs, motor coordination and the immune system."

Government has obviously freed itself from the scientific method. It is time for the scientific method to free itself from government.



P.S. I'd like to extend a welcome to readers of Snarksmith editor Michael Weiss's today's blogs column, I Spy Your IP. If you'd like to find more of my recent views on any subject, please use the FreshTags navigation system in the left-hand column, or click on one of the categories with checkers below. You will find a full list of my rants on drugs here.

Since the brunt of Michael's column was about L.A. Times' columnist Michael Hiltzik's pseudonymous blog commenting, I'd like to point out that though "Tor" is not my legal name, plenty of folks have called me by this name for almost fifteen years, and I only blog or comment by this name or an obvious variation, like "MisterTor" where "Tor" was already taken in a system. I'll have to write the story of my naming someday soon. And I also want to make a minor correction of what Michael said: I am a resident of Liberty, Maine. I am a native of Rockland, Maine, but grew up in neighboring Rockport. The hospital where I was born is now a nursing home, so I might someday have the distinction of dying in the same building where I was born.

Linking to: MacBros' Place, Comedian Jenée: People are Idiots

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