Does marijuana have medical value? That is the question

And the answer depends on whom you ask.

36 states plus the District of Columbia are saying yes it does through their legal medical cannabis programs. Then, on the federal level, authorities insist the answer is no, which is keeping marijuana categorized as a Schedule 1 Substance, meaning it has no accepted medical value and high abuse potential.

“The most common use for medical marijuana in the United States is for pain control. While marijuana isn’t strong enough for severe pain (for example, post-surgical pain or a broken bone), it is quite effective for the chronic pain that plagues millions of Americans, especially as they age. Part of its allure is that it is clearly safer than opiates (it is impossible to overdose on and far less addictive) and it can take the place of NSAIDs such as Advil or Aleve, if people can’t take them due to problems with their kidneys or ulcers or GERD.

In particular, marijuana appears to ease the pain of multiple sclerosis, and nerve pain in general. This is an area where few other options exist, and those that do, such as Neurontin, Lyrica, or opiates are highly sedating. Patients claim that marijuana allows them to resume their previous activities without feeling completely out of it and disengaged.

Along these lines, marijuana is said to be a fantastic muscle relaxant, and people swear by its ability to lessen tremors in Parkinson’s disease. I have also heard of its use quite successfully for fibromyalgia, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, and most other conditions where the final common pathway is chronic pain.

Marijuana is also used to manage nausea and weight loss and can be used to treat glaucoma. A highly promising area of research is its use for PTSD in veterans who are returning from combat zones. Many veterans and their therapists report drastic improvement and clamor for more studies, and for a loosening of governmental restrictions on its study. Medical marijuana is also reported to help patients suffering from pain and wasting syndrome associated with HIV, as well as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.” Harvard Health Publishing 

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) issued a letter recently to the  White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) asking for help in resolving the long-standing dispute .

Two federal agencies – the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have been exchanging blame over which one of them is responsible for setting up an independent, peer-reviewed study on the medical potential of marijuana. CEI claims federal law demands a peer review of the scientific evidence that has been used to reject proposals for cannabis rescheduling. (FYI: A 2021 analysis of marijuana-related arrests in 2020 in New York City’s five boroughs reported that people of color comprised 94 percent of those arrested. )

“HHS claims DEA was responsible for IQA compliance because DEA disseminated the evaluation without HHS approval,” the group said. “Our view is that both agencies failed in their duties under the act. HHS should have peer-reviewed the information before it sent the report to [Food and Drug Administration], given that HHS knew that information would be disseminated and relied upon for regulatory action by FDA as required by statute,” according to CEI’s letter to the White House. “And DEA should not have published the HHS evaluation without first ensuring that the IQA requirements had been met (arranging for the peer review itself if HHS would not).”“DEA claims compliance was HHS’s responsibility because the evaluation was performed by HHS.”

CEI has noted that the scientific evidence, which HHS has given the DEA and which has been used to keep marijuana classified as Schedule 1 Substance, is defective. The group further noted that “President Biden has pledged to ‘follow the science.’ And that is all we have asked for that independent scientific experts be asked to follow the science and report on if they believe the scientific claims of HHS are accurate. We believe once that is done, those scientific experts will agree, along with the vast majority of states and medical organizations, that marijuana does have some medical uses and as such cannot properly be classified as a Schedule I drug.”

What do you think?

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