Federal Health Agency Greenlights Medical Weed

January 6, 2015 | Bucky Turco

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), an influential federal agency with a billion dollar budget that conducts studies and helps shape public policy, has officially changed its stance on the benefits of medical cannabis. On the agency’s “DrugFacts: Is Marijuana Medicine?” webpage, it reads:

Revised December 2014
The marijuana plant contains several chemicals that may prove useful for treating a range of illnesses or symptoms, leading many people to argue that it should be made legally available for medical purposes. In fact, a growing number of states (20 as of March 2014) have legalized marijuana’s use for certain medical conditions.

The term “medical marijuana” is generally used to refer to the whole unprocessed marijuana plant or its crude extracts, which are not recognized or approved as medicine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But scientific study of the active chemicals in marijuana, called cannabinoids, has led to the development of two FDA-approved medications already, and is leading to the development of new pharmaceuticals that harness the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids while minimizing or eliminating the harmful side effects (including the “high”) produced by eating or smoking marijuana leaves.

Now, compare it to NIDA in 2012 (via the Wayback Machine), who was so much less hip two years ago:

Published July 2012
The use of marijuana to treat various medical conditions—or “medical marijuana”—is a controversial topic and has been for some time. Some people have argued that marijuana’s reported beneficial effects on a variety of symptoms justify its legalization as a medicine for certain patients. Often the potential harm of marijuana use is not considered in these arguments, although risk is part of what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assesses when deciding whether to approve a medicine.

Under Federal law, only FDA-approved medications are legal to prescribe—and marijuana is not one of those. Still, more than a dozen States have approved its use to alleviate a variety of symptoms.

According to NIDA, the change was based on the latest science: “The reason that page was updated was due to our recent event on December 16th where we released results from our annual Monitoring the Future survey,” wrote the agency in an email to ANIMAL. See the results of the findings here.

It’s apparently not the only federal agency to change its tune. In 2006, the FDA said there are “no sound scientific studies” that justify medical pot. Fast forward eight years and you’ll find language like this on the FDA’s website: “Over the last few decades, there has been significant interest in the potential utility of marijuana for a variety of medical conditions, including those that already have FDA-approved therapies.” Ha!

NIDA is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the “nation’s medical research agency—supporting scientific studies,” yet oddly, it’s the DEA which determines a drug’s scheduling. It’s pretty obvious where those buzzkillers stand:

The campaign to legitimize what is called “medical” marijuana is based on two propositions: first, that science views marijuana as medicine; and second, that the DEA targets sick and dying people using the drug. Neither proposition is true. Specifically, smoked marijuana has not withstood the rigors of science–it is not medicine, and it is not safe.

So why did the U.S. Department of Health file a medical pot patent back in 1999?

(Original photo: Prensa 420)