Pubdate: Mon, 24 Apr 2006
Source: Roanoke Times (VA)
Copyright: 2006 Roanoke Times
Note: First priority is to those letter-writers who live in circulation area.
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Agency Position Should Have Been Based On Facts, Not A Predetermined 
Political Conclusion

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced last week that "no 
sound scientific studies" found any benefit from the medicinal use of 

Only those who have not been paying attention to the Bush 
administration's disdain and disregard for science the last five 
years will be stunned to learn that the FDA's pronouncement was more 
wish-fulfillment than science.

In fact, a 1999 review by the Institute of Medicine found that 
marijuana was "moderately well suited" for treating or comforting 
those suffering from several medical conditions, including nausea 
caused by chemotherapy and AIDS.

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

Not only is the FDA prematurely and inaccurately proclaiming 
medicinal marijuana's worthlessness, the agency has labored with the 
Drug Enforcement Agency to discourage any research that might prove 

Researchers have had trouble getting approval to grow marijuana for 
use in studies. They've had trouble getting financing for studies. 
And they've had trouble getting studies published.

Eleven states have legalized marijuana for medicinal use, but a 
widely criticized Supreme Court decision last year said federal drug 
laws trump such state initiatives.

It's a divisive political issue, and many have wanted the FDA to take 
a position.

But that position should have been based on facts, not a blatantly 
predetermined conclusion.

Ignoring the Institute of Medicine's study -- and general scientific 
and medical consensus --about the efficacy of marijuana may make a 
certain segment of the Republican political base happy.

But it further erodes the FDA's credibility -- already in tatters 
from the Plan B emergency contraception fiasco.

It would be unfair to say it erodes the credibility of the Bush 
administration. When it comes to matters scientific, the Bush 
administration has no credibility left to erode -- though it was only 
a rumor that, until recently, NASA scientists were not allowed to 
note that the Earth is round.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman