IN Rep. Souder critical of medical marijuana

March 26, 2004

Sylvia A. Smith, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

Rep. Mark Souder, R-3rd, has asked the Food and Drug Administration to send a warning letter to a Canadian company that sells medical-use marijuana.

It is legal in Canada to possess, grow and sell marijuana for medical purposes.

In a letter sent this week, Souder asked the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration to tell the Canadian company, Amigula, that it can not send marijuana to U.S.

customers and that 'any advertisements promoting marijuana for a medical purpose will be regulated under the existing rules that apply for direct-to-consumer marketing of drugs, including stating the adverse health risks.'

Warren Eugene, the founder of Amigula, said his company does not sell to U.S. customers. A form that Amigula's customers are required to fill out requires the buyer's name, address, gender, telephone number and two photos.

'We don't ship into the U.S.,' Eugene said Thursday.

Eugene said Souder should not involve himself in Canadian policies.

Souder, who chairs a subcommittee that oversees the FDA and federal drug policies, told FDA Acting Commissioner Lester Crawford to 'immediately send warning letters to all states, localities and sellers of marijuana explaining that botanical marijuana has not been approved by the FDA for medical use and cannot be advertised as such and imposing penalties, as appropriate, on those that continue to illegally promote this dangerous drug as medicine.'

Nine states - Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington - permit the use of marijuana. Legalization is under consideration in other states, including Connecticut, Illinois and Vermont.

In December, a federal court ruled that the federal law prohibiting medical marijuana may not apply to sick people who live in states that permit marijuana to be used for medical reasons and who have a doctor's recommendation.

Some doctors and ill people say marijuana relieves the pain and nausea associated with AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and other diseases.

Souder has frequently said that is a bogus argument.

'There are no generally recognized health benefits to smoking marijuana,' he said in a congressional debate last summer.

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