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Meta-analysis or meta-deception?

Mark Souder’s “Safe and Effective Drug Act” has been introduced in the House (see my post earlier this week). It’s HR-5429
The short description:

To require the National Institute on Drug Abuse to develop a meta-analysis of the available scientific data regarding the safety and health risks of smoking marijuana and the clinically-proven effectiveness of smoking marijuana for medicinal purposes, and to require the Food and Drug Administration to promptly disseminate the meta-analysis.

Now, other than the obvious flaw of specifying “smoking” as the only way to use medical marijuana, the concept of this description is positive. Gathering and disseminating scientific data is something that drug policy reformers support whole-heartedly.
But let’s go a step further. In the language of the bill, there is a small part about the method for this “meta-analysis.”

(a) In General- The Director of the National Institutes of Health, acting through the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (referred to in this Act as the `Director of the Institute’), shall develop a meta-analysis of the available scientific data regarding the safety and health risks of smoking marijuana and the clinically-proven effectiveness of smoking marijuana for medicinal purposes.

OK, now the sham is exposed. It will be the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse that will gather the information. And NIDA has a historic reputation of being one-sided in its approach, susceptible to political pressures to re-inforce the drug war (and was at the very least a passive co-conspirator in the Ricaurte MDMA scandal). Current director Nora Volkow has tried to change the perception of the agency, but it’s got too much baggage and too much of an agenda built in to its mission.
NIDA is the wrong place for this analysis. This bill should be opposed unless it can be amended to change the means of collecting scientific data, and to change the wording that repeatedly infers that “smoking” is the only means of taking medical marijuana.

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