Pubdate: Fri, 28 Apr 2006
Source: Shelby Star, The (NC)
Copyright: 2006 The Shelby Star
Note: The FDA Statement is at
Cited: The Institute of Medicine report
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


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 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."

The FDA statement was not preceded by any new studies or surveys of
the literature. It represents a willful determination to ignore
science to buttress the harmful policy of marijuana prohibition.
Politics over science.

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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake