Medical marijuana: the conflict between scientific evidence and political ideology. Part two of two

Peter J Cohen
Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy 2009, 23 (2): 120-40
In Part I of this article, I examined the role of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in drug approval and then detailed the known risks of medical marijuana (any form of Cannabis sativa used--usually by smoking--to treat a wide variety of pathologic states and diseases). Part II of the article will begin by reviewing the benefits of Cannabis sativa as documented by well designed scientific studies that have been published in the peer-reviewed literature. I will then propose that ability of scientists to conduct impartial studies designed to answer the question of marijuana's role in medical therapy has been greatly hampered by political considerations. I will posit that in spite of the considerable efforts of policymakers, it is becoming apparent that marijuana's benefits should be weighed against its well-described risks. I will conclude that political advocacy is a poor substitute for dispassionate analysis and that neither popular votes nor congressional "findings" should be permitted to trump scientific evidence in deciding whether or not marijuana is an appropriate pharmaceutical agent to use in modern medical practice. Whether or not marijuana is accepted as a legitimate medical therapy should remain in the hands of the usual drug-approval process and that the statutory role of the Food and Drug Administration should be dispositive.

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