Skip to comments.The Science of Medical Marijuana Prohibition (Op-Ed)
Posted on 06/15/2006 4:53:24 PM PDT by Wolfie
The Science of Medical Marijuana Prohibition
USA -- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently opined that smoked marijuana has no scientifically accepted medical uses. The FDA received much criticism for this decision because in 1999 the Federal Governments own scientists concluded that even in smoked form marijuana has medical uses. At the heart of the debate about medical marijuana is the question of science. But what, exactly, is science? Since modern civilization bases itself on a belief in the ability of science to solve any and all problems (human or otherwise), prudent people are obligated to at least try to understand just where the faith of modernity really rests.
Modern science starts with the concept of pure reason, as articulated by the philosopher Descarteswho said, I think therefore I am. In short, Descartes argues that the quest for knowledge, i.e., science, is based on an objective understanding of that which human beings can see, touch, smell, taste, or hear.
According to the people we call scientists, there are three types of activities that pass for science, though it is important to note that these activities are inseparably interrelated. First, there is the descriptive method. Second, there is the empirical method. Third, there is the theoretical method.
The descriptive method generally relies on case studies, which amounts to the observation of (either from afar or up close) the behavior of one or more persons and the objective reporting of what was experienced. The benefit of the case study is that a single phenomenon or event can be described thickly and in great detail, such that there is a deep appreciation for what is being studied.
The empirical method generally takes many individual case studies, gathered either by experiments or surveys, and then uses numbers (statistics) to objectively report or model what was experienced. The benefit of the empirical method is that it appears more objective than the case study because it can control for confounding explanations. The empirical method is indeed a more precise science; however, the descriptive method is reliable and valid, too.
Literally, behind both methods is the theoretical method, which provides the basis or reason for doing either descriptive or empirical science in the first place. Basically, descriptive or empirical science is a test of some particular theory. The irony of the theoretical method is that sometimes what a scientist assumes theoretically is exactly what a scientist finds descriptively or empirically.
In 1937, for example, the 75th Congress theorized that Spanish-speaking immigrants were low mentally because of social and racial conditions and, since some of these immigrants used medical marijuana, the Federal Government reasoned (over the objection of the American Medical Association) that medical marijuana should be criminalized. It is an ugly truth: racism represents the beginning of todays Federal medical marijuana prohibition.
Anyone doubting whether racism is in fact behind the founding of todays Federal medical marijuana prohibition should read the legislative history of The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Anyone doubting whether race still plays a role in the war on drugs should read the American Civil Liberties Unions policy report on race and drug prohibition. That Federal medical marijuana prohibition stems from Jim Crow thinking is beyond doubt to everyone who takes the time to research and consider the issue with an open mind.
Science is only as good as the theory that drives it. Since the FDA operates from a misinformed viewpoint based in large part on the racial stereotypes of 1937, no case study or double-blind experiment could ever show that the marijuana plant in its raw form has medical utility. Why? Follow the money.
The FDA is politically prohibited from recognizing the value of a medicine that can be grown by people for free because the agency has such close ties to the pharmaceutical industry. This is my theory because shortly after the FDA said that marijuana has no benefit in smoked form the agency recognized the medical efficacy of a pill-based marijuana medicine. Is it a coincidence that the FDA discourages the use of a medicine that can be grown for free, but endorses the use of that same medicine if produced synthetically for profit?
Soon the 109th Congress will vote on an amendment that would recognize, under Federal law, the legitimacy of the medical marijuana programs in the various states that have passed medical marijuana laws. Lets hopea bold hope, in these partisan timesthat a majority-of-the-majority in Congress will finally end a 69-year-old error and thereby follow a more factual and compassionate theory when it comes to medical marijuana.
Call your representative now and instruct him or her to support the Hinchey-Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment. In a sense, the future of science is at stake.
Kenneth Michael White is an attorney and the author of The Beginning of Today: The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 and Buck (both by PublishAmerica 2004).
.. or we can continue to persecute the sick, dying, and lame... raid cancer wards... perpwalks for paraplegics.
No more so than the FDA discouraging the use of the deadly nightshade (belladonna) but endorsing the use of atropine produced from the plant.
Something to do with dangerous plant by-products vs. the pure form of the drug.
Straw man. Marijuana isn't Belladonna. Next.
That's correct. You see, I was using an analogy. a-NAL-o-gee. An analogy is a comparison based on a similarity in some respects between things that are otherwise dissimilar.
In this case, the extracts of the plants have a medical use, whereas the plants themselves contain dangerous compounds.
No, you're just clouding the issue, and not responding in anyway to the thrust of the article. Have a nice day.
Really? According to the article, "The FDA is politically prohibited from recognizing the value of a medicine that can be grown by people for free because the agency has such close ties to the pharmaceutical industry. This is my theory ..."
I was responding to that "thrust". If you'll allow the author to make these unsupported claims, then certainly my tame analogy is appropriate.
It makes more sense to me that the FDA would reject the medical appropriateness of a smoked plant because of the harmful carcinogens than some vague political tie to "the pharmaceutical industry".
Oh give me a break. Inhaled smoke from MJ is harmless compared to many FDA approved drugs' side effects. Pretty weak argument there.
So dangerous that not a single person in the history of the world has died from an overdose or any other illness caused by consuming said plant.
Yes. That's one of the reasons smoked marijuana is not considered medicine. Do you know of a "carbon based compound which is combusted" which has FDA approval?
"Now one thing they didn't talk about is the benefits of vaporized marijuana."
A vaporizer would be safer, but how would this be enforced? Also, the THC content in a pill is regulated. There is no regulation for smoked marijuana. For example, how much and how often should a patient use vaporized marijuana for glaucoma? For MS?
It's all about power.
Without power, the politicians can't get lobbyists to contribute campaign money.
Without money, the politicians can't get reelected.
Without being reelected, the politicians can't wield power.
The only way to stop the vicious cycle is to elect politicians who rule based on principle rather than power. At the moment, I can't think of many.
Inhaled smoke from MJ contains more carcinogens than tobacco. The FDA wouldn't approve of smoked tobacco as medicine today -- but you think they should approve smoked marijuana?
How many FDA approved drugs' side effects include cancer?
Any other illness? You don't know that. You're assuming that because you haven't seen any report that says "this person died from cancer caused by smoking marijuana" that no one has.
MJ's side effects are cancer? Now you're just making up side effects out of thin air.
hold your horses, you don't even have a single case of Cancer caused by MJ......weak weak weak......
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.