Sunday, January 30, 2022

Is Medical Marijuana Safe and Effective?

I am on the record in opposition of Ohio’s system for authorizing the use of medical marijuana.  While I am not an expert on the issue, my reading over several years has informed me that persuasive medical evidence of safety and efficacy – the legal and regulatory standard used for prescription drug approval -  is lacking for nearly all ‘approved’ uses of this drug.  And while it is true that there is some evidence that marijuana offers benefit in a very narrow range of medical conditions, the broad claim of efficacy for a panoply of illnesses is unfounded scientifically.  Champions of medical marijuana use should want, if not demand, that the drug is vetted and tested under the auspices of the Food and Drug Administration.  Wouldn’t you want to be assured of any drug’s safety and efficacy?  Should anecdotes of benefit or beliefs of benefit be sufficient to release a medication for general use?  Is this the standard that we use to approve drugs used to treat hypertension and cancer?

Beyond the lack of rigorous medical evidence, I strenuously object to legislatures commandeering the medial marijuana approval process.  The notion of politicians granting medical approval of a drug for an ever-enlarging list of ailments is preposterous.  Of course, such a process should be wholly under the control and authority of medical professionals and appropriate governmental agencies.  Not only are lawmakers unqualified for this task, but the political process is contaminated with conflicts of interests, business concerns, lobbying influences and upcoming elections.  For example, if a medical marijuana company wants to build a large dispensary in a certain district, might this make the legislator representing that district likely to vote in support of any medical marijuana measure?  

Marijuana - Panacea or Faith Healing?

Look how ridiculous the situation has become here in Ohio.  This past December the Ohio Senate passed a bill that aims to legalize medical marijuana for a patient whose condition may reasonably be expected to be relieved by the drug.  Think of that absurd language!   Doesn't this seem just a mite too broad?  Who defines what constitutes reasonable?  What if a patient or even a doctor reasonably expects that medical marijuana will be effective against acne or arthritis or asthma or hair loss?  Remember, even now there are folks who believe that ivermectin is effective against COVID-19.

This horse has left the barn and there is no turning back. How did we let this happen?  The political and economic forces who favor (read: stand to benefit from) expanded medical marijuana use outmaneuvered medical professionals and enjoyed strong public support from ordinary people who truly believe in the product’s promise of healing.  But belief in benefit should not be the standard used to determine safety and efficacy of medical drugs and devices.  Politicians should rank dead last or lower on the list of folks who should be in charge of drug approval.  




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