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Reefer Madness: US Government’s Policy on Medical Marijuana

by RonChusid

I always find it amusing when conservative blogs get excited by a victory for conservative politicians in Europe, seeing this as a win for their team. What they fail to realilze is that conservatives in much of Europe are far closer to our Democratic Party, while Republicans would be seen as an extremist fringe party. Reading the conservative British newsmagazine, The Economist, provides an example of how many European conservatives have no interest in the opposition to individual liberties expressed by the American right. My previous post on condoms indicates one diffrence between European and American conservatives. The Economist shows another example in their coverage of the FDA’s statement on medical use of marijuana:

IF CANNABIS were unknown, and bioprospectors were suddenly to find it in some remote mountain crevice, its discovery would no doubt be hailed as a medical breakthrough. Scientists would praise its potential for treating everything from pain to cancer, and marvel at its rich pharmacopoeia—many of whose chemicals mimic vital molecules in the human body. In reality, cannabis has been with humanity for thousands of years and is considered by many governments (notably America’s) to be a dangerous drug without utility. Any suggestion that the plant might be medically useful is politically controversial, whatever the science says. It is in this context that, on April 20th, America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement saying that smoked marijuana has no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

The statement is curious in a number of ways. For one thing, it overlooks a report made in 1999 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), part of the National Academy of Sciences, which came to a different conclusion. John Benson, a professor of medicine at the University of Nebraska who co-chaired the committee that drew up the report, found some sound scientific information that supports the medical use of marijuana for certain patients for short periods—even for smoked marijuana.

The Economist reviews further evidence for medical use of marijuana, and the government’s attempts to suppress it. They interviewed Anjuli Verma, the advocacy director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and note a possible way around the government’s restrictions:

Ms Verma’s view of the FDA’s statement is that other arms of government are putting pressure on the agency to make a public pronouncement that conforms with drug ideology as promulgated by the White House, the DEA and a number of vocal anti-cannabis congressmen. In particular, the federal government has been rattled in recent years by the fact that eleven states have passed laws allowing the medical use of marijuana. In this context it is notable that the FDA’s statement emphasises that it is smoked marijuana which has not gone through the process necessary to make it a prescription drug. (Nor would it be likely to, with all of the harmful things in the smoke.) The statement’s emphasis on smoked marijuana is important because it leaves the door open for the agency to approve other methods of delivery.

Donald Abrams, a professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, has been working on one such option. He is allowed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (the only legal supplier of cannabis in the United States) to do research on a German nebuliser that heats cannabis to the point of vaporisation, where it releases its cannabinoids without any of the smoke of a spliff, and with fewer carcinogens.

That is encouraging. But it does not address the wider question of which cannabinoids are doing what. For that, researchers need to be able to do their own plant-breeding programmes.

In America, this is impossible. But it is happening in other countries. In 1997, for example, the British government asked Geoffrey Guy, the executive chairman and founder of GW Pharmaceuticals, to come up with a programme to develop cannabis into a pharmaceutical product.

23 Responses to “Reefer Madness: US Government’s Policy on Medical Marijuana”

  1. Four comments:

    1) yeah for the British government
    2) good luck to GW Pharmaceuticals
    3) don’t you (Ron) know that allowing use of marijuana in any capacity, medical or otherwise, means the hippies will take over the US?
    4) I’ve heard brownies are good

  2. KJ,

    Re 3, that might not be good. We have an old drugie in the White House. Another druggie is big in the right wing media. Is this what you mean by hippies taking over the US?

  3. but… but… okay, Ron, you’re right, I didn’t follow #3 to its logical conclusion.

    I don’t think either Rush or Bush would stoop to marywhowanna, however. I mean, pot is for peaceniks and hippies only, right?

    I get the right-wing memes confused so easily…. 😐

  4. I think maybe this guy smoked something funny, however:

    from Newsweek: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12440783/site/newsweek/

    Physics: From Time to Time

    “May 1, 2006 issue – Ronald Mallett, a University of Connecticut physics professor, thinks time travel is possible—and he’s designed an experiment that could do it. Basically, he wants to “swirl” empty space the way you’d swirl coffee in a cup, using a laser as the stirrer. Because space and time are more or less the same, swirling empty space could also swirl time. Mallett would then drop subatomic particles into his roiling cup of space-time and see if they’re hurtled a few nanoseconds into the future.”

    And if we swirl in the opposite direction, can be go back in time? Like say, before the war in Iraq or to November, 2004?

  5. What am I thinking?! All the way back to Selection 2000!

    I need to wake my husband up, pronto. 😉

  6. Okay, I asked my husband the physicist, but all he wanted was a cup of coffee without subatomic particles of any kind. He didn’t want any brownies, either.

  7. That is really goofy.

    Mexico turns out to be the more progressive country, as it has now become more lenient on possession of small amounts for personal use.

    I’ve been a casual smoker for 40 years now and gainfully employed.

  8. I fully support medical marijuana.

    How would you like to have MS or constant nausea from chemo?

    See you at Hempfest, August 2006 Seattle – usual attendance is 500,000

  9. The reaction of San Diego’s Mayor & Arnold’s people to the liberalization of Mexican drug laws is comic!


    Music to go with it:


  10. KJ Says:
    April 29th, 2006 at 7:43 am
    “I think maybe this guy smoked something funny, however:”

    Nah, doesn’t sound like pot to me. Those are more like the kinds of discussions and trips we use to have when we were doing acid.

  11. KJ

    I am going to have to send that to the kid in nuclear physics.
    I’m sure he will get a laugh out of it/

    Dave from P

    Your comment does sound true. Those of us without experience have trouble keeping the effects straight 🙂


    They have cancer because they were bad people; smoked cigarettes, ate bad food, lived near a chemical plant and breathed. There are now so many bad people, the good people are helping the Lord out with earthly judgements.
    Probably hoping the line will move faster at St Pete’s gate when they get there.

    Too bad it isn’t scientifically reliable to get their marijuana from the DEA and vice collections.

  12. I’ve been known to take a few tokes myself as well as excursions into more realistic dimensions.

    As you know, pot is now legal in Denver. Last week they has a smoke-in in the center of the city. 2,000 kind folks lit up and enjoyed their reefer unbothered by the authorities. So it all depends on where you are.

  13. Teresa

    LMAO! Denver the new Amsterdam!

  14. And one good Denver resident said he believes the Bible states that God created all vegetation, including marijuana, and it was good. So he voted for the Denver initiative legalizing possession of an ounce.

    Gimme that ol’ time religion! Yeah!

  15. Teresa

    I do believe that it’s medicinal use dates back to pre-biblical times actually. Holistic is always a good choice.

  16. Pam

    I love it!!!!!! The New Amsterdam!!

    Denver is a riot! People are loose and fun. They do what they want. A police state won’t fly there, I’m afraid.

  17. I’ve always believed that cannabis was a gift to mankind from the universe. The therapeutic value is so obvious.
    But some people just have to look a gift horse in the mouth.

    I still expect to see legalization in my lifetime and the mushrooming, as it were, of the hemp industry

  18. Teresa

    Sounds better than liberal Hollywood!

  19. Way way better than liberal Hollywood. It lacks image crap. It’s just jeans, reefer, a jeep, a bottle of wine or more, or a cup of joe and good conversation.
    The mayor, a scientist, is beyond progressive. He isn’t even a politician.

  20. Teresa

    Hmmm… it’s too far from the ocean. Speaking of image crap… I went to a little shindig at Arianna’s last night. Image was everywhere.

  21. Really? Tell me tell me.

  22. It was book signing thingy, totally un-political actually. The book: The One, Finding Soul Mate Love and Making it Last by Kathy Freston.

    It was a lovely shindig with an open bar lot’s of nice little nibblies passed around on trays. Arianna was very gracious to invite the LA political type bloggers to her unpolitical type party promoting Ms Freston’s book.

    I’m looking forward to reading the book, highly recomended by Marianne Williamson and Chopra and others in the new age circle.

  23. So, when contemplating our move, we need to consider both Seattle *and* Denver, hmmmm…

    Ken wants to know if that is why Denver is called “the mile high city” 😉

    Dave from P… acid? never heard of the stuff 🙂 🙂 🙂