Pubdate: Thu, 19 Feb 2004
Source: Ocean County Observer (NJ)
Copyright: 2004 Ocean County Observer
Author: Kenneth R. Wolski


Terrence Farley, Ocean County first assistant prosecutor, continues to
deny that there is scientific evidence that supports marijuana as
medicine. In 1988, the Drug Enforcement Administration concluded two
years of hearings on the issue of medical marijuana. The DEA's own
Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young, found that:

"The evidence in this record clearly shows that marijuana has been
accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very
ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It
would be unreasoning, arbitrary and capricious for the DEA to continue
to stand between those sufferers and the benefit of this substance in
light of the evidence in this record."

Young is quoted on page 445 of Volume II of "Marijuana, Medicine and
the Law," edited by R.C. Randall. Randall was one of the petitioners
who asked the DEA to reschedule marijuana so that doctors could
prescribe it. It took the DEA and its predecessor organization, the
Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, 14 years to even hold these
hearings. Exhibits that were presented at these hearings included more
than 70 scientific journal articles. Thirty-three articles gave an
overview of marijuana's therapeutic benefits. Eighteen articles were
on the benefits of marijuana for glaucoma. Eight articles were on the
benefits of marijuana for cancer treatment. Thirteen articles were on
the benefits of marijuana for a variety of other diseases.

As a registered nurse, I know there was a wealth of compelling,
scientific evidence that marijuana was effective for a number of
medical conditions even 15 years ago. Studies in the ensuing years
confirm marijuana's safety and efficacy for a host of medical conditions.

In the end, it was the administrator of the DEA who completely
disregarded the evidence of the two years of hearings when he
overturned Young's decision. Farley also is disregarding the
scientific evidence when he calls for more study of marijuana before
he will favor legalizing it for medicinal purposes. Marijuana's been
around for 5,000 years. Ample studies have been done and the results
are in: Marijuana is safe and effective for a number of conditions.
Certainly, more studies should be done. One study question, for
example, might be:

In the 14 years that the federal government refused to hold hearings
on medical marijuana, more than 75,000 Americans went blind from
glaucoma. How many cases of blindness could have been prevented if
those glaucoma patients had access to marijuana?

Scientific studies are very important, but sick and dying patients
need their medicine now, and they do not need to be made criminals for
trying to relieve their suffering. Patients should be encouraged to
discuss marijuana with their health care providers, especially now,
since the Supreme Court recently ruled that the DEA cannot punish
doctors for simply discussing marijuana with their patients.

Kenneth R. Wolski

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