Pubdate: Tue, 25 Apr 2006
Source: Tracy Press (CA)
Copyright: 2005 Tracy Press
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


Americans have been getting mixed messages from their governments
about medical marijuana use. And we got another one last week that
sounds like a scary blast from the past -- about 70 years ago when the
feds began to crack down on pot.

Since then, the federal government, with the recent support of the
Supreme Court in an unusual shift from its "states' rights" position
to "inherent federalism," have been telling us not to do drugs, or at
least not to inhale.

Through the populist initiative process in some states like
California, though, smoking, eating and licking pot is OK for
medicinal purposes.

But, as the Showtime sit-com "Weeds" satirizes, ailments for which
some doctors write marijuana use recommendations are open to
interpretation. We can understand conditions like glaucoma, severe
weight loss with AIDS, pain and spasticity in the limbs from multiple
sclerosis and nausea from chemotherapy. But pot for a torn rotator cup
or asthma?

Authors of California's successful Proposition 215 claim the state law
doesn't give kids or adults the OK to use marijuana, either. Police
can still arrest anyone for marijuana offenses. Proposition 215 simply
gives those arrested a defense in court if they can prove they use
marijuana with a doctor's approval. That leads to even more
interpretation -- this time by judges.

So, it's easy to understand the reefer madness billowing out of the
White House. The Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Drug
Enforcement Agency have made marijuana abuse their No. 1 priority.

But their barks has been stronger than their bites, since they have so
far left it up to state officials in most cases to bust grandma and
grandpa for smoking, possessing or cultivating medicinal marijuana.

Enlisting Food and Drug Administration lapdogs to refute the claims of
medical benefits from marijuana is a bit too much. It's like the
sinner defining the sins. The FDA argues that state laws permitting
the smoking of marijuana with a doctor's recommendation are
inconsistent with the federal policy that all medications undergo
rigorous research and testing before drug approval. Based on the FDA's
track record during the Bush administration, the process has been
politicized. In fact, a Government Accountability Office report
released Monday said the FDA "lacks a clear and effective process for
making decisions about, and providing management oversight of" how to
judge new safety concerns that arise after a drug is on the market.

That brings into question the credibility of the FDA's latest message
on the medicinal value of marijuana. 
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