Does Science Matter?

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 31, 2012

    As I wrote last week in an op/ed for The Sacramento Bee, when it comes to the federal government’s policy on marijuana, not so much.

    Viewpoints: Science supporting medicinal pot is clear
    via The Sacramento Bee

    A dozen years ago, California lawmakers did something extraordinary. They authorized investigators throughout California to conduct a series of FDA-approved, gold standard trials to assess whether cannabis is safe and effective as a medicine.

    In all, researchers conducted more than a dozen clinical studies examining whether cannabis could meet objective standards of safety and therapeutic efficacy. For example, investigators at the University of California, San Francisco, assessed whether vaporizing cannabis could rapidly and consistently deliver the plant’s active ingredients to patients in a manner that is far safer than smoking. It could. At UC San Diego, clinicians examined whether inhaling cannabis posed potential harms to the immune system, particularly in subjects suffering from immune-compromised conditions like HIV. It didn’t. And at universities throughout the state, investigators studied whether marijuana provided statistically significant relief in a number of hard-to-treat conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and neuropathic (nerve) pain. Cannabis did so – consistently.

    … Nonetheless, policymakers – particularly those in Washington – have responded to these most recent scientific findings with no more than a collective yawn. Despite pledging to let “science and the scientific process … inform and guide decisions of my administration,” neither President Barack Obama nor Congress have taken any steps to amend federal law or federal policy to reflect the scientific reality that marijuana possesses well-established therapeutic value. In fact, this administration has taken just the opposite approach.

    In 2011, the Obama administration quashed out-of-hand an administrative petition that sought federal hearings regarding the present classification of cannabis as a substance with “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” In its rejection, the administration alleged, “The drug’s chemistry is not known and reproducible; there are no adequate safety studies; there are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy; the drug is not accepted by qualified experts; and the scientific evidence is not widely available.”

    Yet, the findings from California’s 12-year-old study program show that each of these claims is demonstrably false.

    It is long past time to reject the notion that we as a society possess insufficient evidence regarding the safety and efficacy of cannabis. The truth is that we know plenty. Most of all we know that there remains no valid scientific reason to justify the continued targeting, prosecution and incarceration of those Americans who consume cannabis responsibly.

    Read my entire commentary here.

    37 responses to “Does Science Matter?”

    1. Chris in WI says:

      It’s sad our medical policies are based on belief rather then facts. Why can’t modern man learn to believe IN facts?

    2. bill says:

      and so it continues………….what a waste

    3. Mark I says:

      from Kansas we call it the OZ effect:
      the feds are allowed to physically attack and even kill during this war on drugs while the pharmacists and the physicians continue to kill through their experimentation and demand for controls. one group’s freedom fighters are another group’s terrorists.

    4. Dave Evans says:

      Look, it isn’t the science that is the problem, it is the bullshit. The crazies have already placed their bets and believe they have “invested” in their lies. To reverse their efforts and speak the truth about marijuana and say it is wholesome is emotionally similar to raising a knife and cutting off their own hand. Of course our society is being harmed by marijuana prohibition, but how can we expect folks like John Edwards, Jim McGreevy, George Bush or either Clinton to paid attention to us? They are all too busy polishing their turds.

      These are the kinds “leaders” we need to de-invest in.

    5. Ll says:

      The federal government will never give up Prohibition.


      1) Money
      2) Police unions
      3) Prison guard unions

    6. Galileo Galilei says:

      Thwarting the advance of medical science endangers us all,

    7. txpeloton says:

      “The drug’s chemistry is not known and reproducible…” Fail.

      Marijuana is not a drug. According to Schedule 1, it is an “other substance” because it is defined by a tautology. It is well known that the drug is THC, which is currently being
      synthetically reproduced. Apparently, to make a proper definition be the law, it is necessary that we demand this simple definition of marijuana which actually shows respect for our

      16. The term ‘marijuana’ means all parts
      of the smoke produced by the combustion
      of the plant Cannabis sativa L.

      With this definition, there will be a lot of official instant winners, unsmoked cannabis will not be in the schedule, marijuana will still be an “other substance”, and we can reasonably debate rescheduling that. For more information, google Talking Points for the Peloton.

    8. Michael Miller says:

      It’s come to the point where I will believe anything anymore. I mean, the prohibition of cannabis is just unbelievable to me anymore but it’s true. It’s so absurd to me that anything else that I ever hear will be believable compared to the prohibition of the most useful plant on this earth.

    9. Fireweed says:

      Shoot, I’ve been smoking for 40 years and I’m healthier than most people half my age!

    10. Fireweed says:

      Yeah, Bill, how about we cut a huge chunk of gov’t waste out of the picture and get rid of the DEA.