Pubdate: Mon, 24 Apr 2006
Source: Republican, The (Springfield, MA)
Copyright: 2006 The Republican
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


The United States Food and Drug Administration relies on the nation's
top scientists and medical experts to determine whether a drug is safe
or harmful.

Sometimes, the decision is the result of studies done at public
universities, such as the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

On other occasions, it is based on a review by the government's own
top scientists.

That's mostly how it works.

On Thursday, the FDA ruled that there are "no sound scientific
studies" to support the medical use of marijuana. This time, the FDA
ignored the advice of its own top scientists. In 1999, a review by the
Institute of Medicine, a part of the National Academy of Sciences, the
nation's most respected scientific advisory agency, concluded that
marijuana is "moderately well-suited for particular conditions, such
as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS wasting."

An FDA spokeswoman said a new review that included input from the
federal drug enforcement agency found that "smoked marijuana had no
currently accepted or proven medical use in the United States and is
not an approved medical treatment."

At about the same time that the FDA was under the influence of the
Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA officials were blocking attempts
by a University of Massachusetts professor to study the medical
benefits of marijuana. Lyle E. Craker, a plant and soil sciences
professor at the Amherst campus, was finally denied a permit after a
four-year battle with the DEA to obtain a permit to grow marijuana for
scientific research. The DEA said it would lead to greater illicit use
of marijuana.

The FDA says there are no sound studies to support the medical use of
marijuana, but it is also taking advice from the very agency that is
blocking the studies. This raises the question: Who is smoking what in

The DEA has enlisted the FDA in its fight against the legalization of
marijuana, and once again a federal agency that most Americans had
trusted to be above politics is in the thick of it.

If the FDA won't listen to the scientists, Congress should take steps
to see that it does.

Given the disdain for science currently in Washington, we won't hold
our breath. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake