Pubdate: Tue, 18 Jul 2000
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2000 The Sun-Times Co.
Contact:  401 N. Wabash, Chicago IL 60611
Author: Gary Storck


At the urging of pharmaceutical industry lobbyists, the Food and Drug 
Administration is considering making a lot more prescription drugs 
available over the counter [news story, June 28].

All of these drugs have potentially lethal side effects and should be 
prescribed and monitored by a physician, but the pharmaceutical industry 
would have us think otherwise. Of course, their only motivation is profit, 
not the health of Americans. Already, more than 100,000 Americans die each 
year from side effects of legally prescribed medications.

Meanwhile, the FDA refuses to reschedule marijuana so physicians can 
prescribe it. Unlike the dangerous medications the FDA is considering 
allowing for sale, marijuana has no lethal dose.

In 1988--after reviewing all evidence brought forth in a lawsuit against 
the government's prohibition of medical marijuana--the DEA's own 
administrative law judge wrote: "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of 
the safest therapeutically active substances known."

Yet the FDA and other federal agencies not only continue to suppress 
research on marijuana's medical benefits, but also limit access to only 
eight Americans, while subjecting even sick and dying residents of states 
that have legalized medical marijuana to arrest, prosecution and jail.

Medical marijuana, with the potential to replace many legal medications, 
represents an inexpensive, natural alternative to costly and toxic 
prescription medications. The FDA's refusal to acknowledge this while 
acting as an agent of pharmaceutical corporations is a national shame.

Gary Storck, Madison, Wis.
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