Pubdate: Fri, 28 Apr 2006
Source: Jacksonville Daily News (NC)
Copyright: 2006 Jacksonville Daily News
Note: The FDA Statement is at
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Opinion)


Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for reasons that are
far from clear, chose to enter the debate over medical marijuana with
a thoroughly unscientific - one might even say anti-scientific -
blanket denial that marijuana has any medical value at
all.Specifically, the grandiosely titled "Inter-Agency Advisory
Regarding Claims That Smoked Marijuana Is a Medicine" referenced a
"past examination" that "concluded that no sound scientific studies
supported medical use of marijuana for treatment in the United States,
and no animal or human data supported the safety or efficacy of
marijuana for general medical use." That is simply not true. As
Scientific American magazine noted on its Web site the next day, the
statement simply ignores "the existence of a 1999 report by the
Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, which
concluded that marijuana was 'moderately well-suited for particular
conditions, such as chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and AIDS
wasting.'" The Institute of Medicine report, which was commissioned by
the "drug czar" at the time, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, and included a
series of hearings around the country as well as a complete review of
the scientific literature worldwide, summarized its conclusions as
follows: "Advances in cannabinoid science of the past 16 years have
given rise to a wealth of new opportunities for the development of
medically useful cannabinoid-based drugs.

The accumulated data suggest a variety of indications, particularly
for pain relief, antiemesis and appetite stimulation. For patients
such as those with AIDS or who are undergoing chemotherapy, and who
suffer simultaneously from severe pain, nausea and appetite loss,
cannabinoid drugs might offer broad-spectrum relief not found in any
other single medication. The data are weaker for muscle spasticity but
moderately promising.

The least-promising categories are movement disorders, epilepsy and

Animal data are moderately supportive of a potential for cannabinoids
in the treatment of movement disorders and might eventually yield
stronger encouragement." The Institute of Medicine report does say
that "it does not follow from this that smoking marijuana is good
medicine," which is the only sentence Gen. McCaffrey ever quoted.

That statement is followed, however, by noting that "patients who are
currently suffering from debilitating conditions unrelieved by legally
available drugs, and who might find relief with smoked marijuana, will
find little comfort in a promise of a better drug 10 years from now."
Therefore, "Until a nonsmoked rapid-onset cannabinoid drug-delivery
system becomes available, we acknowledge that there is no clear
alternative for people suffering from chronic conditions that might be
relieved by smoking marijuana, such as pain or AIDS wasting." The FDA
statement was not preceded by any new studies or surveys of the
literature; it was simply posted on the agency's Web site. It
represents a willful determination to ignore science to buttress the
harmful policy of marijuana prohibition.

Politics over science.

- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin