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Washington Post editorial staff is confused

We’re seeing all sorts of shifts in the media on drug policy, as talk of legalization has almost become the norm. That may be causing confusion among some editorial staffs.

It certainly seems that way with yesterday’s editorial in the Washington Post. It’s a prime example of something that looks like it was written by a committee… that was arguing.

THE JUSTICE Department announced last week that it would not prosecute patients who legally obtain marijuana from licensed dispensaries in the 13 states that allow medicinal use. The decision is both sensible and potentially problematic.

People suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis and other serious ailments should not be harassed or live in fear if they abide by the laws of their state to obtain a drug that may provide relief from such symptoms as pain and nausea. Neither should those who strictly follow legal standards in dispensing marijuana from state-licensed shops. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is right to focus federal resources primarily on large-scale illegal traffickers.

So far, so good. Nice support for leaving medical marijuana patients in those states alone. Next paragraph takes an odd turn.

Yet this policy shift leaves significant questions unaddressed, including whether the Justice Department’s decision essentially constitutes a first step toward legalizing marijuana. Such an immense policy decision should not be ushered in surreptitiously, but should be tackled head-on, with a full-throated public debate about the possible benefits and consequences.

Unaddressed? No, the policy memo and all the follow-ups from the administration were clear — the policy doesn’t even begin to legalize medical marijuana on a federal level, let alone legalizing marijuana in general. There is no surreptitious effort on the part of the federal government to legalize marijuana without a debate. The public’s been debating it and has been slowly and laboriously dragging the politicians into the right direction for years.

Now the editorial goes back to medical marijuana.

More information — good old-fashioned scientific information — is needed before the federal government or more states formally endorse marijuana smoking for medicinal use. The Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, in 1999 published what is widely considered to be the most comprehensive study; it was decidedly mixed, listing the many possible drawbacks of smoking marijuana, including respiratory problems, while noting that such use seemed to provide some patients with relief not obtained from pills containing marijuana’s active ingredients.

We’ve had all sorts of good old-fashioned scientific information since the 1999 report, including the fact that (gasp!) it’s actually possible to ingest marijuana without smoking it. Besides, the federal government and the states don’t need to formally endorse medical marijuana. They only need to stop preventing doctors from treating patients.

More recently, Dr. Peter J. Cohen, an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, noted in a 2009 law review article that reputable studies released in the past few years showed that patients with AIDS and hepatitis C experienced reduced pain and nausea and were better able to tolerate traditional treatment as a result of smoking marijuana. Yet these preliminary results — as Dr. Cohen points out — have not been subjected to rigorous testing by the Food and Drug Administration. The reason: A manufacturer must submit the drug for review before the FDA will tackle the assignment. So far, no such “manufacturer” has come forward.

Uh, yeah. The FDA is not a proper route for marijuana since it’s a plant and there’s no payoff for a single company to go through the expense of FDA approval. So in other words, the good old-fashioned science that you say need to happen has been happening, but the federal government has been unable or unwilling to handle it.

The medical marijuana controversy may be moot in the near future because of a drug known as Sativex, a spray mist approved for conditional use in Canada and the United Kingdom that delivers the active ingredients found in marijuana. If cleared by the FDA, patients will have some confidence that it is safe and effective. Patients have the right to know if the same can be said about smoked marijuana.

Sativex is not a drug that delivers the active ingredients found in marijuana. Sativex is marijuana, simply extracted into liquid form. If the FDA clears that, it’s going to be pretty hard for them to keep the hard line against the plant.

Hey, it’s not a bad editorial for the Washington Post. And it makes a lot of the right noises about the directions we should be headed. But I was definitely amused by their confusion.

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14 comments to Washington Post editorial staff is confused

  • Mike R

    I don’t understand the confusion at all. Just leave marijuana users alone – period. If the law is vague, it shouldn’t be enforced. Laws are here to protect us, not to give law enforcement reasons to justify their salaries.

    You know, as far as the Sativex is concerned, I’m not so sure that they won’t approve it, or a similar drug, and still maintain marijuana’s schedule 1 status. I know it sounds crazy, but they already do this with several drugs. Xyrem (Sodium Oxybate, schedule 3), which is really GHB (Gamma Hydroxybutric Acid, schedule 1), and is perscribed for narcolepsy treatment. Funny about GHB – it’s schedule 1 but occurs naturally in the human body and is found in almost all meat products. Like DMT which occurs natrually in the human brain and is found if hundreds of vegetable food product. Our government already pattented most of the cannabinoids in marijuana for medical use. They make up the rules up as they go and they don’t care how we feel about it.

  • im sick of hearing that we need more studies, we need more studies…. there have been more than 17,500 studies done on marijuana…. how many more do we need? oh thats right, none of them are any good because its not from the FDA… you know, that group that approves many medications that one of the known side effects is possible death or suicide…..

  • Hey, you do know that there is an ad for drugfreeworld.com in the upper right hand corner….right?

  • Nick Zentor

    Seems like whenever one of these big corporate rags decide to do an objective piece on cannabis, they give it to some dumb pundit that knows little or nothing about it and has to do a little research on it to make it sound good, while any independent journalist that knows more than enough about the issue is completely ignored. There’s a phrase for this kind of reporting. Faking it to make it. This journalist is faking it to make the Washington Post look like they’re on top of the issue. But, as usual, they are decades behind it.

  • claygooding

    With all the words coming from the establishment,they still have marijuana as a schedule 1 drug,which means all test marijuana for clinical testing and FDA approval of marijuana as a medicine must be furnished by the government labs. As long as marijuana is schedule 1,the DEA must refuse any clinical testing of marijuana as a medicine.
    Until they reschedule marijuana,there is only confusion and more smoke and mirrors.

  • DdC

    The Post toasties are opinion seeking.

    There hasn’t been any significant changes since 1894 Indian Hemp Commission. Every report since has been a rehash, double check and find the sos. Including the IOM that never touched a bud. Same as the FDA has never touched a bud. Just leaking employees retarded opinions.

    Truth in Trials Act? What a concept. How about Truth in overturning Nixons Big Lie, the CSA? Then overturn the 404 gag rules, mandatory minimum and 3 stripes. Free Charlie Lynch and Eddie Lepp. Sam’s from Carmel, Clint Eastwood used to be the mayor.

    Farr Seeks Additional Protection for MMJ Users
    Santa Cruz Sentinel October 27, 2009 Santa Cruz, CA
    Rep. Sam Farr wants to make sure President Barack Obama’s decision to keep federal drug agents from harassing medical marijuana users is a lasting one. Legislation the Carmel Democrat plans to introduce this week, the Truth in Trials Act, seeks to commit the president’s directive to law by making it tougher to prosecute people who smoke or sell pot for medical reasons in states where it is legal. In California and 13 other states, local laws permit the drug, though federal law bans it.

    Q& A: With MMJ On The Back Burner What Do We Know?
    Washington Post Opinion October 27, 2009
    Last week, the Justice Department ordered its staff to back off prosecution of people who use marijuana for medical purposes in the 14 states in which such use is legal. The directive reopened a question that has been part of the debate on U.S. drug policy for decades. To understand more about the drug’s medical properties, we turned to Daniele Piomelli, who since 1998 has led a program, funded by the National Institutes of Health, to study the impact of marijuana and other psychoactive drugs on the brain.

  • permanentilt

    Do y’all think the media will EVER learn what a vaporizer is? I just keep wondering that.

  • kaptinemo

    It’s just like the old line about Playboy Magazine: people only buy it for the articles.

    Yeah, right. Half the frickin’ media probably lights up every night to cope with stress. They know bloody well about the non-traditional means of ingestion (i.e. eating and vaporizers instead of simple smoking) but probably have to feign ignorance to avoid arousing enough suspicion about possessing such knowledge to warrant a drug test. Effin’ schizoidal, but that’s our society when it comes to cannabis.

  • DdC

    I’m really starting to believe Ganja has cannabinoidal properties that can protect us from developing the highly addictive, debilitating and dangerous Reefer Madness.
    A doobie a day keeps the wingnuts at bay.

  • ezrydn

    Why pay the high price of Sativex when you can make your own, as I’ve been doing for the past 5 or so years? An ounce in a coffee grinder, a small mason jar, an alcohol wash (of your taste choice, I use tequila), float the biomass, shake real good, put away in a drawer for a week, shake again and wait a final week. Strain and put in any little “squirt-type bottle” you can find at any store. Clean it out and add your solution. A little squirt between your cheek and gum is all ya need and it’s not “noticable.”

  • DdC

    ISN’T IT TIME WE STOP ARRESTING POT SMOKERS?
    youtube

    Ottawa Just Might Go To Pot
    Ross Rebagliati, whose gold medal in snowboarding at the 1998 Winter Olympics was obscured briefly by marijuana smoke, is seeking the Liberal nomination in a B.C. riding for the next federal election.

    What Two Super-Jocks Can Tell Us About the Disastrous War on Pot
    We have a double standard — promoting the recreational use of alcohol and banning the similar use of marijuana.

    NFL Buzzkill

    Minimal Relationship Between Cannabis And Schizophrenia Or Psychosis
    New study says it would be necessary to stop thousands of heavy cannabis users to prevent a single case of schizophrenia.

  • kaptinemo

    Oh, BTW, let us not forget that Sativex is made by the company that hired Andrea Barthwell, who made a tidy sum as a ‘public servant’ lying to her paymasters (every taxpayer who footed the bill for her salary) that medicinal cannabis was a ‘cruel hoax’. Rather hypocritical, no?

    Maybe the WaPo ought to look into that; it would make for much more interesting reading…

  • chris

    whew, just finished going point by point on some reefer madness posted by a conservative republican on facebook.

    original: http://pastebin.com/f4c7d2cda
    with my responses: http://pastebin.com/f5486d9a0

    Didn’t put much effort into it actually, but hey’ it’s only for facebook.