Human Exceptionalism

Change Controlled Substances Act So Medical Marijuana Doesn’t Have to be “Smoked”

Today, the NYT carried a letter to the editor from an Obama Adminstration representative, reacting to a column published in the Gray Lady’s op/ed page that criticized the government’s crackdown on medical marijuana, an issue we have discussed here also at SHS.  The letter is truly Orwellian.  From “Medical Marijuana: The Government’s View:”

The issue of medical marijuana is not about culture and counterculture. It is not a struggle; it is not a war. It simply comes down to how we approve medications as safe and effective for use in the United States. To date, the Food and Drug Administration has not found smoked marijuana to be either safe or effective medicine for any condition.       

No national medical association has come out in favor of smoked marijuana for widespread medical use. Further, many public health organizations, including the American Cancer Society, American Glaucoma Foundation, National Pain Foundation and National Multiple Sclerosis Society, do not support smoked “medical” marijuana. The administration’s position is clear: the medication approval process should remain above the political fray. Smoked marijuana does not meet scientific standards for safe and effective medicine, and marijuana use and distribution remain illegal under federal law for any purpose.   

Of course, the FDA hasn’t approved it!  It can’t because the Controlled Substances Act states that marijuana has no legitimate medical uses!  Not only that, but the necessary testing to match the clear medicinal properties of marijuana with diseases and afflictions for which it could provide relief can’t be performed.  Talk about a Catch 22!

And note the repeated emphasis on “smoked,” which is truly deceptive. Marijuana’s medicinal properties can be administered effectively without being smoked–as in Canada and some European countries, where a marijuana spray is prescribed and dispensed through pharmacies.

Again, the answer is easy and commonsensical: Amend the CSA so that marijuana can be prescribed and dispensed in medical forms–as morphine is.  That would permit an end to the chaotic medical marijuana mess in the states, allow proper drug enforcement against recreational sales, and provide sick and disabled people with necessary relief.


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