Letters: "Medical" marijuana -- myths and truths


A bill to approve crude marijuana as a "medicine is in NYS Legislature." The advocates of the legislation claim that "medical" marijuana helps seriously ill people with cancer or AIDS or glaucoma. They paint a picture of elderly ill people who need it for pain relief. However, "medical" marijuana patient records from California show 71 percent of users were between ages 17 and 40. Only 2.05 percent of customers obtained physician recommendations for AIDS, glaucoma or cancer. An extremely high number of people were using "medical" marijuana for other purposes.

It is too easy to get marijuana in this bill. If you are over age 18, you can obtain marijuana by claiming to have a "serious condition." The definition of "serious condition" is vague and full of loopholes.

If you want a cannabis-based medicine, smoking is not necessary. There are two approved cannabinoid drugs in pill form already approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (Marinol and Cesamet). The FDA has determined that smoking marijuana for medical use is unsafe. New York should not override the FDA process. It protects vulnerable patients.

There are no established doses for smoked marijuana. It's unclear how it interacts with other drugs or medical conditions. There is much evidence that smoking marijuana harms sick people. New York should not model other states' experiences:

  • Increased crime
  • Increased substance use
  • Decreased perception of the harm of marijuana by youth and adults
  • Increased drug trafficking
  • And an overall acceptance of the use of marijuana for many other reasons than the purported medicinal purpose.

The national medical organizations opposed to smoked marijuana as medicine include: American Medical Association, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, American Glaucoma Society, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Cancer Society, National Eye Institute, National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The New York State Medical Society and the New York State Environmental Prevention Task Force have developed position statements that reaffirm the process to which medications are regulated and approved by the FDA. They oppose any process that entrusts the state legislature with the function of approving medications. They oppose any smoking formulation for medical marijuana as a delivery system for a medication except for the terminally ill unless the FDA should approve that delivery system.

I do not understand how, when all of the scientists and substance abuse professionals who work with these patients are opposed to this legislation, our legislators continue to pursue its passage.



The New York State Environmental Prevention Task Force

Hoosick Falls, N.Y.


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