Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Mmmm... Medical Marijuana

After reading this post at Slate, I was ready to write a post of my own about how the Bush administration is once again ignoring science in favor of religion or politics. The post argues that a new inter-agency advisory at the FDA definitively claims that marijuana has no medicinal value and has a high potential for abuse. The author then goes on to say that a 288 page report said that neither of these issues are settled, and in fact, marijuana's addictive nature may be overstated.

After reading the advisory though, I don't think it is claiming that marijuana is definitely harmful. Instead, it is saying the opposite, that there isn't enough evidence that marijuana is safe or necessary for medicinal use. The way I read it, the advisory is saying that more research would need to be done before approving the drug for medicinal use (although that research will not be conducted). It also goes on to say that the FDA should be the only agency that makes the decision. In effect, they are saying that state legislatures or voter referenda should not be substituted for the professional judgment of their organization.

While the memo isn't particularly shocking, the Bush administration and the FDA should realize that unless they actually conduct objective research on marijuana (instead of blocking it) and report on its safety and effectiveness for medical use, citizens will take matters into their own hands, basing their decision on their own anecdotal evidence. If they truly believe that marijuana is dangerous, they need to show conclusively that it is to prevent the type of legislation that is getting passed. Something tells me though that they realize they are exaggerating the potential for abuse.