Pubdate: Mon, 24 Apr 2006
Source: Honolulu Star-Bulletin (HI)
Copyright: 2006 Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


THE ISSUE The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a statement
that the use of marijuana for medical purposes is not backed by science.

AS the regulatory agency assigned to protect Americans against health
risks, the Food and Drug Administration relies on scientific proof to
maintain its credibility. That credibility took a dive last week when
the FDA -- citing no studies whatsoever -- announced that "no sound
scientific studies" support the medical use of marijuana.

In doing so, it gave a slap to the National Academy of Sciences, whose
Institute of Medicine found in 1999 that marijuana is "moderately well
suited for particular conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea
and vomiting and AIDS wasting." The academy is the nation's most
prestigious scientific advisory agency, and its studies cannot be so
easily dismissed.

The FDA's announcement appears to have been induced by Rep. Mark
Souder, R-Ind., a fierce opponent of marijuana who introduced a bill
two years ago that would have required the agency to issue an opinion
on marijuana's medical properties. He believes that laws in Hawaii and
nine other states allowing medical use of marijuana are a front for
legalization of all uses of the plant.

Susan Bro, an FDA spokeswoman, said the statement was based on a
combined review by federal drug enforcement, regulatory and research
agencies. The review concluded that "smoked marijuana has no currently
accepted or proven medical use in the United States and is not an
approved medical treatment."

By itself, the statement is so patently political that it is hardly a
blow to supporters of medical marijuana. It is in line with the
crusade against medical marijuana by John P. Walters, director of the
Office of National Drug Control Policy.

It may indicate that the Bush administration is gearing up to crack
down on medical marijuana use. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year
that the federal government can prosecute anyone using marijuana for
medical purposes, even in states that allow it. The more than 1,000
Hawaii residents registered to grow and use the plant under their
doctors' supervision have reason to feel uneasy. 
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