Founder and President of National Families in Action
Con to the question "Should Marijuana Be a Medical Option?"
[Editor's note: Although we believe a plain reading the last paragraph in the statement below (in bold) made the organization a "Pro" to the question "Should marijuana be a medical option?," the organization’s Executive Director believes that despite the bold part of their statement, the organization should be listed as "Con" to the medical option question.
We are putting the organization in the "Con" column at the request of the Executive Director while we further study and discuss the issue.
(Apr. 11, 2002 Ed.)]
"National Families in Action believes that all people have the right to be treated with medications that have been subjected to rigorous research under guidelines established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that those medicines are safe and effective.
Congress established the Food and Drug Administration to oversee the testing of all new medications to protect the public from unsafe, ineffective drugs. Researchers who develop a new medicine must subject it to rigorous testing, first in animals and then in humans, to determine whether the drug has toxic side effects and that it actually does what the researchers believe it will do. Experimental medicines that meet these tests are approved for distribution to the public. Experimental medicines that do not meet these tests are not approved.
'Medical marijuana,' that is, marijuana plant material that people rollup in cigarette papers and smoke, or place in foods and eat, has not been approved as safe or effective. One component in marijuana, THC, was synthesized, tested, and approved by FDA in 1983 as safe and effective to treat nausea in cancer chemotherapy patients and, later, to treat wasting in AIDS patients.
Since then, several more effective anti-nausea drugs have been developed and are commonly given to cancer patients to suppress the nausea that chemotherapy can induce. Effective appetite stimulants are also available for AIDS patients who suffer from wasting.
Preliminary research suggests that other components in marijuana may one day produce new medications that will be shown to be safe and effective, that FDA will approve, and that doctors will be able to prescribe to patients. This will not make marijuana plant material a safe or effective medicine.
National Families in Action supports research that explores the potential medical usefulness of any drug, including marijuana compounds and marijuana plant material.
Since 1996, a political movement has taken advantage of the initiative process some states allow to 'legalize marijuana as medicine.' A handful of wealthy businessmen have financed this effort in 7 states and the District of Columbia thus far. Funds are used to create and air TV commercials to persuade voters that marijuana plant material is a critically-needed medicine to treat a large number of diseases and problems, despite the absence of scientific knowledge supporting such claims.
National Families in Action believes voters are not qualified to approve new drugs as safe or effective, and that this repsonsibility is best left to scientists and physicians. The organization therefore opposes making any drug, including marijuana plant material, available to the public without FDA approval.
The one exception we make to this position is terminally or gravely ill patients. We would support marijuana plant material being made available to these patients provided that they and their families are first informed of all known risks, that only research grade marijuana is made available to them, that they are willing to pay for it (research-grade marijuana is expensive to cultivate), that they are told that marijuana plant material has not met the tests all medications must meet, and it is made clear to them that marijuana is therefore not a medicine."