Pubdate: Fri, 21 Apr 2006
Source: Salt Lake Tribune (UT)
Copyright: 2006 The Salt Lake Tribune
Author: Gardiner Harris, The New York Times
Note: The FDA Statement is at
Cited: The Institute of Medicine report
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Walters, John)


WASHINGTON - The Food and Drug Administration declared Thursday that
"no sound scientific studies" support the medical use of smoked
marijuana. The statement, which contradicts a 1999 review by top
government scientists, inserts the health agency into yet another
political fight.

Susan Bro, an agency spokeswoman, said the statement resulted from a
combined review by federal drug enforcement, regulatory and research
agencies that concluded that "smoked marijuana has no currently
accepted or proven medical use in the United States and is not an
approved medical treatment." She said that the FDA was issuing the
statement because of inquiries from Capitol Hill but would likely do
nothing to enforce it.

"Any enforcement based on this finding would need to be by DEA, since
this falls outside of FDA's regulatory authority," she said.

Eleven states have legalized medicinal uses of marijuana, but the Drug
Enforcement Administration and the nation's drug czar, John Walters,
have opposed those efforts.

Congressional opponents and supporters of medical marijuana have each
tried to enlist the FDA to support their views. Rep. Mark Souder,
R-Ind., an opponent of medical marijuana initiatives, proposed
legislation two years ago that would have required the FDA to issue an
opinion on the medicinal properties of the drug.

Souder believes that efforts to legalize medicinal uses of marijuana
are "a front" for efforts to legalize all uses of marijuana.

The FDA statement contradicts a 1999 review by the Institute of
Medicine, a part of the National Academy of Sciences, the nation's
most prestigious scientific evaluative agency. That review found
marijuana to be "moderately well suited for particular conditions,
such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting."

John Benson, co-chair of the Institute of Medicine committee that
examined the research into marijuana's effects, said in an interview
that the FDA statement and the combined review by other agencies were
wrong. The federal government "loves to ignore our report," said
Benson. "They would rather it never happened."

Some scientists and legislators said the FDA statement about marijuana
demonstrates that politics is trumping science.

"Unfortunately, this is yet another example of the FDA making
pronouncements that seem to be driven more by ideology than by
science," said Jerry Avorn, a professor at Harvard Medical School.

Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., said that the statement reflected the
influence of the DEA, which he said had long pressured the FDA to help
in its fight against marijuana. 
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