The National Institute on Drug Abuse has just published a newly revised edition of their classic pamphlet Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, and if you're guessing that they made an updated version expressly to help the countless number of parents nationwide currently wondering if medical cannabis might prove helpful for their severely ill children, congratulations, you're exactly wrong (but your heart's in the right place).
Instead, in a “letter to parents” that serves as the pamphlet's introduction, NIDA director Nora D. Volkow laments the fact that people who use marijuana as a safer, often more effective alternative to pharmaceutical drugs make her job of demonizing weed a lot harder. “The subject of marijuana use has become increasingly difficult to talk about,” she complains, “in part, because of the mixed messages being conveyed by the passage of medical marijuana laws and legalization of marijuana in some states.”
How selfish of all those cancer patients. They should just go through chemo in agony, rather than contribute to sending “mixed messages.” Anyway, in the FAQ, the good folks from NIDA dismiss the idea of medical marijuana entirely, so it must not work.
The FDA, which assesses the safety and effectiveness of medications, has not approved marijuana as a medicine. There have not been enough large-scale clinical trials showing that smoked marijuana’s benefits outweigh its many potential health risks in patients with the symptoms it is meant to treat.
Of course, this conveniently ignores the active role NIDA has played in blocking the very research they now say doesn't exist. According to NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano, the federal government, through NIDA, maintains a monopoly on the supply of cannabis for use in FDA-approved scientific research, and they won't fund studies looking into the plant's medical benefits, only its potential harms.
“Under federal law, NIDA (along with the US Drug Enforcement Administration) must approve all clinical and preclinical research involving marijuana. NIDA strictly controls which investigators are allowed access to the federal government’s lone research supply of pot -- which is authorized via a NIDA contract and cultivated and stored at the University of Mississippi,” Armentano wrote, in an essay titled, "Why Isn’t There More Medical Marijuana Research? Because The Feds Won’t Allow It, That’s Why!" “In short, no NIDA approval equals no marijuana equals no scientific studies.”