Last Friday, 24 members of Congress demanded that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) account for its disingenuous April 20 statement claiming that “no sound scientific studies” support the medical use of marijuana.
In a letter co-authored by U.S. Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Ron Paul (R-TX) and signed by 22 other members of Congress, the legislators accuse the FDA of basing its statement on politics, not science.
The FDA’s claim, of course, is patently false. Numerous credible scientific studies document marijuana’s medical benefits, most notably a 1999 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report commissioned by the White House drug czar’s office. The IOM concluded, “Nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting, and all can be mitigated by marijuana.” But as Dr. John Benson, one of the three authors of the IOM report, told The New York Times on April 21, the federal government “loves to ignore our report. … They would rather it never happened.”
The FDA’s statement — which was issued in response to pressure from notorious prohibitionist U.S. Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), who has demanded that the FDA’s acting commissioner denounce medical marijuana — contained no mention of new research or analysis that led to the agency’s pronouncement. Rather, the statement was simply a rehash of the federal government’s long-standing position.
But in a sign that MPP and our allies’ work to educate the public and the media is paying off, the nakedly political document has been nearly universally derided in the media. Even Congressman Souder’s hometown paper printed an editorial criticizing Souder and the FDA calling the statement “just the latest disgraceful effort to maintain an unconvincing position that has long been rejected by most Americans.”
MPP staffers were quoted in stories in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times, as well as in Associated Press, Reuters, and Scripps Howard News Service stories that were reprinted in hundreds of local newspapers. In addition, MPP staffers appeared on CNBC, NBC’s “The Today Show,” and dozens of local TV news broadcasts … and co-authored an op-ed in The San Diego Union-Tribune.