A week after the US Food
and Drug Adminstration (FDA) issued a one-page opinion claiming marijuana
has no proven medical uses -- a position that ignores the much more comprehensive
analysis done by the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine
in 1999 -- a bipartisan group of 24 House members led by Rep. Maurice Hinchey
(D-NY) has called on the agency to explain its reasoning and offer scientific
proof for its position.
"Despite the fact that you
are responding to a scientific question, your press release failed to provide
any scientific expertise," the representatives wrote in a
Thursday letter to FDA Acting Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach.
"We call on you to show us the purported scientific evidence for the basis
of this response. There is no evidence that you have new scientific
proof or that you oversaw clinical trials. It perplexes us that even
though the FDA is responsible for protecting public health, the agency
has failed to respond adequately to the IOM's findings seven years after
the study's publication date."
Reps. Hinchey & Paul with Montel Williams and others,
at Capitol Hill press conference last year
Last week, the FDA issued
a one-page press release declaring that "no sound scientific studies supported
medical use of marijuana for treatment in the United States, and no animal
or human data supported the safety or efficacy of marijuana for general
medical use." The press release did not point to any studies that
supported its contention, and it has become an object of controversy among
medical marijuana proponents and scientists who have actually done research
Hinchey accused the agency
of playing politics with people's lives. "We saw it with the agency's
decision on the emergency contraceptive, Plan B, and we're seeing it again
with medical marijuana: the FDA is making decisions based on politics instead
of science," Hinchey said. "The FDA should not be a political entity.
Rather, the agency should be in the business of ensuring all Americans
have access to safe and effective drugs, including medical marijuana."
Rep. Hinchey is one of the
most ardent defenders of medical marijuana in the House. He has sponsored
an amendment that would bar the federal government from prosecuting medical
marijuana patients in three consecutive sessions, and he has vowed to offer
it again later this year.
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