The Government's Case for Medical Marijuana

January 03, 2005

Jeff Scott,

Someone once said “You raise your voice when you should reinforce your argument.” and Greg Lewis’ recent OpEd on Medical Marijuana spends a great deal of time proving just how accurate that phrase really is. Rather then beat my chest or shout some new thought-terminating-cliché I’ll let the facts speak for themselves.

In 1988, DEA Administrative Law Judge ruled after a lengthy hearing into the rescheduling of Marijuana that it was “One of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man” and that “It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious [for the DEA] to find otherwise.” The result? The DEA rejected there own findings, lost at appeal a few times but eventually won and kept marijuana a schedule 1 drug.

While the hearings, appeals and zero tolerance policies were in full swing at the DEA the US government was quietly supplying medical cannabis to a handful of patients in its Investigational New Drug program. These patients receive a large tin filled with hundreds of machine rolled joints grown and processed at NIDA’s pot farm at the University of Mississippi every month. Each patient receives over 6 pounds of cannabis a year for free and this program is over thirty years old. Each patient also carries a government ID card that protects them from local and federal arrest in the US – even aboard aircraft after September 11th. These patients are ostensibly in a federal research program but no government research has been done on them to discern either the harmful effects of long term smoking or the beneficial effects of cannabis on their various conditions. Private research done by Dr Ethan Russo (available at into the health of these individuals has shown them to be remarkably well. Most lead productive lives despite their disabilities and one is even a successful stock broker- the antithesis of the couch bound stoner we so often see parodied and propagandized.

There is more to Cannabis then THC – the “active” psychotropic ingredient banned and demonized by bureaucrats and demagogues alike. The Jerusalem Post reports that an acid derived from Cannabidiol “code named HU-320, is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. HU-320 is comparable to the known drug indomethacin, but without the known and considerable gastrointestinal side effects caused by that drug.” The Israeli Defense Force has begun experimenting with cannabis as a treatment for soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PharmosCorp, also located in Israel, has begun marketing Dexanabinol for treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury – just in time to fill the void after steroids (until recently used to treat TBI’s) were found to increase the death rate in TBI patients by 20%.

Vioxx, Celebrex, Naprosyn, Ibuprofen and Bextra are all anti-inflammatory drugs that have been used for years and which have all either been pulled off the market by the FDA or issued strident new warnings about side effects as serious as a heart attack. This compares to Cannabis which has no known toxicity level, is slightly less addictive then caffeine and has yet to kill anyone. But don’t take my word for it; check out the actual addiction studies by Dr. Jack E. Henningfield of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Dr. Neal L. Benowitz of the University of California at San Francisco. Read DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young’s report online and look at the research other countries are doing before making an informed decision on the topic.

Note: I am a Husband, Father, Business Owner, Honorably Discharged Naval Hospital Corpsman and decorated Desert Storm Veteran

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