President ‘just says no’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 25, 2013


Confusing messages about marijuana use that are being conveyed by proponents of “medical” marijuana perpetuate the false notion that marijuana use is harmless. These messages ignore the very real negative consequences associated with marijuana use and dependence.

Marijuana and other illicit drugs are addictive and unsafe especially for use by young people. According to the 2010 Monitoring the Future study, levels of current marijuana use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders are the highest they have been in seven years.

Marijuana itself is not an approved medicine under the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) scientific review process. Yet 16 states and the District of Columbia have permitted marijuana to be sold as “medicine” for various conditions. Although some of the individual, orally-administered (in pill form) components of the cannabis plant (Dronabinol and Nabilone are two such drugs available today) have medical value, smoking a marijuana joint is an inefficient and harmful method for delivering elements that have or may have medicinal value. The FDA process for approving medicine remains the only scientific and legally recognized procedure for bringing safe and effective medications to the American public. To date, the FDA has not found smoked marijuana joints to be either safe or effective medicine for any condition whatsoever.

No major medical association has come out in favor of smoked marijuana joints for widespread medical use. Further, public health organizations including the American Cancer Society, American Glaucoma Foundation, National Pain Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and The American Pediatrics Association, as well as other medical societies, do not support smoked “medical” marijuana joints. The American Medical Association has called for more research on the subject, with the caveat that this “should not be viewed as an endorsement of state-based medical cannabis programs, the legalization of marijuana, or that scientific evidence on the therapeutic use of cannabis meets the current standards for a prescription drug product.”

One May 3, 2013, President Obama joined major medical societies in publicly stating that he was NOT in favor of supporting marijuana initiatives now or in the future. In a speech in Mexico City on Friday, President Obama shut the door on any possibility that he’ll support efforts in his second term to legalize certain recreational drugs. The U.S. Federal Government is the single largest funder of research on marijuana in the world. Source: The ONDCP (Office of the National Drug Control Office, the White House).

Furthermore, the Obama Administration opposes drug legalization. Legalization threatens public health by increasing availability of drugs and undermining prevention activities, and poses a significant health and safety risk to all Americans, especially our youth. Marijuana is a harmful drug and its use should be prevented and treated – not promoted. Outside the context of federally approved research, the use and distribution of marijuana is prohibited in the United States.

An article published by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, The Role of the Physician in “Medical” Marijuana, and its companion Public Policy Statement concluded that smoked marijuana is not, and cannot be, a medicine. ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine) recommended that any chemicals in marijuana shown to be effective and recognized as safe for use as treatments for any illness have already been available for over 20 years as standardized and characterized products in the United States, approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and dispensed by professional pharmacies like all other medicines in pill form.

Source: ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy, the White House).

Susan Short is the director of the Children’s Policy Council of Covington County.