Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Uncle Sam on Pot—Part 2

Did you seriously think the previous piece covered all the reasons the DEA has for keeping marijuana illegal? Well, think again. Below are some more statements from the DEA web site followed by my analyses of them.

Any determination of a drug's valid medical use must be based on the best available science undertaken by medical professionals. The Institute of Medicine conducted a comprehensive study in 1999 to assess the potential health benefits of marijuana and its constituent cannabinoids. The study concluded that smoking marijuana is not recommended for the treatment of any disease condition. In addition, there are more effective medications currently available. For those reasons, the Institute of Medicine concluded that there is little future in smoked marijuana as a medically approved medication. [emphasis not added]

I talked about this statement and its source in a previous article, so I just want to say that I wonder what made them pick this particular study to base their position on medical marijuana on. Could it be that it’s the only one they could find that supports their position?

The DEA supports research into the safety and efficacy of THC (the major psychoactive component of marijuana), and such studies are ongoing, supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Not really. It is virtually impossible to get permission to do real medical marijuana research in the U.S. Europe is currently the hot bed of leading-edge medical marijuana research.

Furthermore, the DEA recently approved the University of California San Diego to undertake rigorous scientific studies to assess the safety and efficacy of cannabis compounds for treating certain debilitating medical conditions.

As far as I can tell, that study began in 1999 and was not exactly what this statement makes it sound like. It was a study of the neurobiological effects of long-term, chronic cannabis “addiction.” That doesn’t sound too much like medical marijuana research. Perhaps there was another recent major federally-funded project in San Diego that I failed to find anything about. Maybe it didn’t turn out they way they wanted and it got buried. More likely, it never existed.

It's also important to realize that the campaign to allow marijuana to be used as medicine is a tactical maneuver in an overall strategy to completely legalize all drugs.

Maybe. That might be true for marijuana; I don’t know about all drugs. But that doesn’t in any way affect its medicinal value. If people started using aspirin recreationally, that wouldn’t make it any less effective for treating headaches. But that’s beside the point. The government uses even more lame, more transparent excuses to keep marijuana illegal. So what’s wrong with the other side doing the same to try to get it legalized?

Or maybe it’s just a strategy of the pro-marijuana folks to allow the government to change their mind and not look like idiots for the past 70 years. So the government can say, “We let them use it medicinally and it’s not so bad, so let’s mellow out a bit and let them smoke it recreationally. See, we can be reasonable. Your government isn’t all bad.” I wouldn’t put it past those fun-loving legalization people to give their government a chance to keep their dignity and at the same time do the right thing.

Does marijuana harm anyone besides the individual who smokes it? Consider the public safety of others when confronted with intoxicated drug users. Marijuana affects many skills required for safe driving: alertness, the ability to concentrate, coordination, and reaction time. These effects can last up to 24 hours after smoking marijuana.

I covered this issue in the previous piece. Nobody’s suggesting that stoned people be allowed to do things that endanger others. That’s just silly. And I sure would like to get a hold of some of that stuff that gets you high for 24 hours.

To be continued…

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