Friday, April 21, 2006

When politics trump science -- FDA rules against medical marijuana

By now I'm sure you've heard that the FDA finally ruled on medical marijuana. Unsurprisingly, they found it to have no medicinal value. The NYT covers the story and provides the nauseating quotes from the agency.
WASHINGTON, April 20 — The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that "no sound scientific studies" supported the medical use of marijuana, contradicting a 1999 review by a panel of highly regarded scientists. [...]

Susan Bro, an agency spokeswoman, said Thursday's statement resulted from a past combined review by federal drug enforcement, regulatory and research agencies that concluded "smoked marijuana has no currently accepted or proven medical use in the United States and is not an approved medical treatment."

Ms. Bro said the agency issued the statement in response to numerous inquiries from Capitol Hill but would probably do nothing to enforce it.

"Any enforcement based on this finding would need to be by D.E.A. since this falls outside of F.D.A.'s regulatory authority," she said. [...]

The Food and Drug Administration statement directly contradicts a 1999 review by the Institute of Medicine, a part of the National Academy of Sciences, the nation's most prestigious scientific advisory agency. That review found marijuana to be "moderately well suited for particular conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting."
This insanity leaves someone like me sputtering in rage and disbelief. I mean why do we waste tax dollars on studies the government ignores when it doesn't support their agenda? That's a rhetorical question of course, since we know why.
"Unfortunately, this is yet another example of the F.D.A. making pronouncements that seem to be driven more by ideology than by science," said Dr. Jerry Avorn, a medical professor at Harvard Medical School.

Representative Maurice D. Hinchey, a New York Democrat who has sponsored legislation to allow medicinal uses of marijuana, said the statement reflected the influence of the Drug Enforcement Administration, which he said had long pressured the F.D.A. to help in its fight against marijuana.
Meanwhile the prohibition profiteers are greatly pleased with themselves.
Tom Riley, a spokesman for Mr. Walters, hailed the food and drug agency's statement, saying it would put to rest what he called "the bizarre public discussion" that has led to some legalization of medical marijuana.
Right. How bizarre for the public discourse to include fact based discussion over fear based propaganda. It's so irritating. I've been leaving this comment on the blogs outside of the reform community that are covering the story.
This dunderheaded ruling is part and parcel of the administration's declared war on marijuana consumers. They're not just ignoring the 1999 study. Nixon ordered The Schaffer Commission to undertake one and then ignored its results. Furthermore the most comprehensive, Marijuana: Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission 1893-1894, came to the same conclusions over a century ago. Marijuana use, even recreational, is not harmful and in fact can be beneficial. And that's just the major research. Study after study has been done proving the worth of this plant. Check out Drug War Facts and Lindesmith Library collection.

Meanwhile this administration actively seeks to prevent any meaningful modern day research. There's simply no excuse for instance, for the DEA to have blocked the UMASS program except to protect their own interests. They're making a ton of money on the prohibition and it's easy work. It's disgustingly crass and unconsciousable.
What really makes me want to hurl is that you just know that somewhere, that idiot Mark Souder is doing the happy dance, thrilled that his thousands of little lies trumped common sense again.


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