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Medical Marijuana Research Should Not Be Hampered

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
FEDERAL agencies that oppose the medical use of marijuana are in a position to hamper scientific studies by controlling the supply of marijuana to scientists, but an administrative judge had recommended that it allow a Massachusetts researcher to grow his own. The Drug Enforcement Administration should heed the advice.

Hawaii is among 11 states that have legalized the therapeutic use of cannabis by patients upon the advice of their doctors. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that the federal government can prosecute anyone using marijuana for medical purposes. More than 1,000 Hawaii residents are registered by the state to grow and use the plant.

The Food and Drug Administration last year announced that "no sound scientific studies" support marijuana's medical use. Actually, the National Academy of Sciences found in 1999 that marijuana is "moderately well suited" for treating nausea, vomiting and AIDS. Cannabis-based pain-relief drugs have been available to people with multiple sclerosis in Britain for two years.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has had a monopoly over federally approved marijuana since 1968 by contract with the University of Mississippi to grow it on a 12-acre patch and make it available for research. A recent study showed that smoking marijuana brought relief to AIDS patients, even though the Ole Miss pot used in the study was about one-fourth the potency of quality street marijuana.

Lyle Craker, a University of Massachusetts horticulturist specializing in medicinal plants, applied to the DEA six years ago for permission to grow marijuana in a climate-controlled room. The pot would be used by a small group of scientists for research into developing vaporizers to deliver marijuana smoke to patients. He sued the DEA after being denied permission.

Researchers testified in the case that the government-grown marijuana was of poor quality. Administrative Judge Mary Ellen Bittner concluded in February that its quality was "generally adequate." However, she added that "an inadequate supply" was available to researchers, that competition also was inadequate and that granting Craker's application "would be in the public interest."

The prohibition against marijuana being grown in private laboratories for scientific research is an absurd policy. Laboratories licensed by the DEA are able to gain access to *edit - a long list of other illegal drugs, for research.

The DEA is not obligated to follow Bittner's recommendation. Indeed, the Bush administration has sneered at any suggestion that marijuana can be of medical use. When a recent study affirmed that smoking marijuana is as effective as prescription drugs in reducing nerve pain of AIDS victims, the White House called it "a smoke screen" because it did not consider the health effects of inhaling smoke. Its motive for discouraging research is suspect.

*content has been edited

News Hawk- User 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Contact: feedback@starbulletin.com
Copyright: 2007 starbulletin.com
Website: starbulletin.com | Editorial | /2007/05/22/

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
The government's reefer madness
June 6, 2007

Re "Not enough marijuana," editorial, May 31

One only hopes that the Drug Enforcement Administration sees the irony in Judge Mary Ellen Bittner's decision to allow for the private production of cannabis for government-approved research. While unfettered access to marijuana is only a phone call away for millions of U.S. teens, it remains out of reach for qualified researchers who wish to study its therapeutic utility in clinical trials. Chalk up another victory for America's misguided pot policies. It is time for the DEA and the White House to stop obstructing research into the medicinal properties of cannabis. Let medical science, not political rhetoric, be the final arbiter in this issue.


The writer is senior policy analyst for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

The editorial does not address the issue of hypocrisy in dealing with marijuana laws in general. How many times have we read a story about someone crashing a car and killing innocents because a driver was stoned? Or, how many domestic disputes have ended in bloodshed and death because someone smoked too much? Legalization of marijuana would wipe out a significant portion of the illicit black-market trade and, if legalized and taxed by the government, the federal deficit would be erased by next Thursday. By legalizing marijuana, we could reduce crime, increase border security and provide the medical benefits of this harmless weed.

Simi Valley

The editorial was right to call on the federal government to stop hindering researchers' access to research-grade marijuana to conduct FDA-approved studies. This research is vital, and the government's stonewalling unconscionable. But your contention that claims of medical marijuana's value are "factually unsupported" is untrue. Peer-reviewed research supports marijuana's safety and efficacy in treating symptoms related to such life-threatening diseases as HIV/AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis. In February, a study in the journal Neurology documented marijuana's effectiveness at alleviating an excruciating type of nerve pain common among patients with HIV/AIDS, for which there is no current FDA-approved treatment.

While the question of marijuana's medical value is effectively settled, the federal government's strangulation of the supply of marijuana for medical research has prevented the sorts of studies required for FDA approval of medical marijuana. This conveniently allows government officials to say marijuana can't be a medicine, the FDA hasn't approved it. It's time for this cynical game to end.

Assistant Director of Communications
Marijuana Policy Project

Thanks for the link Pinch :smoke2:
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