Marijuana should be subject to the same research, consideration and study as any other potential medicine, under the standards of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Legalizing marijuana for medical use should not be decided by legislative or voter initiative.
Efforts to legalize marijuana as medicine in the United States have grown significantly in recent years. Approximately one-fourth of the states have passed legislation or ballot issues allowing marijuana to be prescribed within that state. However, marijuana remains a Schedule I substance under federal law — a classification indicating it has no currently accepted medical use in the United States.
Many people hear of states legalizing marijuana as a medicine and assume this means that medical research supports its medical benefits. Yet, the controlled medical studies needed to confirm any medical benefits have not been conducted; nor is there the level of research needed to identify which chemicals are associated with any benefits, appropriate dosage levels, and safe means of administration. While there is already a substantial body of research demonstrating the health and safety risks from the use of marijuana, more research is needed, not only on possible medical applications but also on these associated health and impairment risks. Anything less puts the safety and health of the general public at risk.
Neither voter nor legislative initiative meets the scientific standards for approval of medicine. For example, we would not consider it rational to go to the polls to “vote on” a potential antibiotic. Voter and legislative passage of marijuana-as-medicine laws may actually inhibit good medicine because they shortcut the necessary step of researching the marijuana plant and the chemicals within that may have legitimate medical applications. Emotional testimony and personal opinion should not dictate medical treatment.
Drug-Free Action Alliance and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Association of Ohio (ADAPAO) do not support marijuana as medicine nor legislative or ballot initiatives to consider this policy change. Should future research result in the FDA changing position on marijuana as medicine, ADAPAO and Drug-Free Action Alliance would reconsider this position.
Drug-Free Action Alliance is a statewide, non-profit substance abuse prevention agency in Ohio.