FDA Allows Politics to Trump Science by Denying Medical Benefits of Marijuana

Press Release April 20, 2006
Media Contact

Tony Newman at (646) 335- 5384 or Tommy McDonald at (646) 335-2242

In a shocking announcement, the Food and Drug Administration ignored an overwhelming body of evidence to the contrary in its announcement on Thursday that “no sound scientific studies” support the use of medical marijuana. In doing so, the FDA sided with the Drug Enforcement Administration in its escalation of its war on medical marijuana — and the sick and dying who use cannabis to treat various ailments.

The FDA’s announcement flies in the face of the 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science, which found that “marijuana’s active components are potentially effective in treating pain, nausea, the anorexia of AIDS wasting and other symptoms, and should be tested rigorously in clinical trials.”

In 1988, the DEA’s own administrative law judge, Francis Young, concluded after extensive testimony that “marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”

Considering the voluminous research and anecdotal evidence that indicate the medical efficacy of cannabis, scientists and advocates were outraged and appalled by the FDA’s politically-motivated pronouncement.

“Not withstanding persistent and illegitimate efforts by the federal government to block scientific research into the medicinal benefits of marijuana, dozens of studies, volumes of anecdotal evidence and the authoritative Institute of Medicine, all demonstrate the medical benefits of cannabis,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “It is shameful to see the FDA talking out of both sides of its mouth on this issue by declaring there is no sound research on the medical benefits of medical marijuana but at the same time, denying researchers the opportunity to study the efficacy of cannabis.”

Several mainstream organizations have reviewed the evidence and determined that medical marijuana does indeed have clear medicinal value. These include: the Institute of Medicine; American Academy of Family Physicians; American Public Health Association; American Society of Addiction Medicine; New England Journal of Medicine; American Bar Association and Consumer Reports Magazine.

“This is yet another example of the Bush Administration’s blatant disdain for the truth. We now have a trifecta of lies from this administration: global warming is not real, Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11th terrorist attacks, and now marijuana has no medical benefits,” said Tony Newman, communications director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “This is further evidence that this current administration is vociferously anti-science and driven more by ideology and politics instead of facts and sound research.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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