After a review of scientific literature on the nature and number of medicinal constituents within marijuana; FDA standards for approval of new medications and medical devices; issues of physician responsibility for safe prescribing of any medication; known medical side effects associated with smoked marijuana, and availability of reasonable medical alternatives to marijuana, the Treatment Research Institute does not find adequate justification to overrule FDA standards to implement policies promoting the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
The available scientific evidence substantiates that smoked marijuana has “medicinal effects” and that these effects are often unique and important to persons suffering from several debilitating conditions. However, in its raw plant form and particularly when smoked, marijuana has an unknowable array of both medically helpful but also medically harmful effects.
An important additional consideration is that it is no longer necessary for those suffering from conditions such as nausea, poor appetite, glaucoma, and various types of pain to smoke marijuana. FDA-approved, marijuana-derivative medications are available for physicians to prescribe. It is unwise and unnecessary for policy makers to overrule established FDA safeguards and legislate approval of new medicines; these important decisions are wisely left to the FDA.
Beyond these important aspects of medical care for individual patients, it is impossible to ignore the public health consequences of policies that might increase access and availability of diverted “medical marijuana,” especially to adolescents. In comparison diversion of medically prescribed opioids has become an epidemic in the US. The breadth and degree of harms associated with smoking marijuana will continue to be debated. However, even the most ardent marijuana proponents cannot claim that smoking marijuana is beneficial for the development of adolescents.
Click here to download a pdf of TRI’s full Position Statement on Medical Marijuana.
This position is issued by the TRI Policy Center and does not necessarily represent the views of all TRI employees.
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