Science Editorial: Turning the Tables with Mary Jane

May 03, 2007

Don Kennedy, Editor, Science

The following is an excerpt from the Science Magazine editorial:

Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a group advocating marijuana availability for severely ill patients needing pain or nausea relief, petitioned the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the DQA in 2004. They alleged that HHS made false statements in its publications and its Web site, in particular that marijuana "has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States." ASA cited an Institute of Medicine study that acknowledged benefits from the use of marijuana and cannabinoid derivatives and referenced double-blind clinical trials demonstrating relief from pain and vomiting. HHS delayed a response for months beyond its own deadline, rejected the petition, and then rejected the appeal.

ASA finally brought its case to federal court, asking it to substitute for the agency's false statement one that says, "Adequate and well-recognized studies show the efficacy of marijuana in the treatment of nausea, loss of appetite, pain and spasticity." Will the judge make HHS change, giving ASA the injunctive relief it seeks? We'll have to wait to see whether this case turns the tables on DQA, but it's already clear that HHS has violated its own DQA guidelines--going, you might say, one toke over the line.

 For the complete editorial, see

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