Pubdate: Sun, 18 Dec 2011
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2011 Paul Armentano
Author: Paul Armentano

Sunday Dialogue


Mr. Evans's call for the Food and Drug Administration to determine 
the safety and efficacy of cannabis may sound appealing, but it is 
politically unfeasible. That is because the cannabis plant is 
classified under federal law as a Schedule 1 prohibited substance - 
the most restrictive classification possible.

Since the present law forbids any private manufacturers of 
cannabis-based products to exist, there remains no entity available 
to conduct the sort of research and development necessary to trigger 
an F.D.A. review.

That is not to imply that cannabis could not meet the F.D.A.'s 
standards on safety and efficacy. Given the substance's long history 
as a medicine, low toxicity and inability to cause lethal overdose in 
humans, cannabis is arguably safer than most conventional therapies.

Nonetheless, the longstanding politicization of cannabis precludes 
the F.D.A. or any other scientific agency from being the final 
arbiter of cannabis policy. That responsibility lies solely in the 
hands of Congress and the Drug Enforcement Administration. It is 
they, not the F.D.A., that must ultimately bring logic and 
consistency to America's marijuana policies.


Vallejo, Calif., Dec. 14, 2011

The writer is the deputy director of the National Organization for 
the Reform of Marijuana Laws and co-author of the book "Marijuana Is 
Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?"
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