A mockery of medicine

A mockery of medicine

Scientists and physicians, including the¬†Massachusetts Medical Society,¬†overwhelmingly agree: smoking marijuana isn’t medicine. That’s a conclusion at the very core of our stance against Question 3. We believe Massachusetts should work within the world-respected processes established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rather than through the shady politics of “medical marijuana” initiatives in various states — including ours.

There’s a way to do this right, and approving Question 3 isn’t it. After all, smoking anything is bad for you. And the medical profession doesn’t tell us to consume raw materials that can’t be precisely dosed. For example, doctors don’t instruct patients to chew on willow bark or smoke opium; they recommend we take a particular dosage of aspirin or prescribe exact amounts of morphine. Responsible doctors and pharmacists also know the ingredients of the medicines they prescribe. Marijuana smoke contains more carcinogens than tobacco smoke, and the plant is often grown in conditions and using chemicals with no oversight.

Could marijuana be used for the creation of FDA-approved medicine? Yes. It already is! In the United States, we have two such medications, Marinol and Cesamet. A third — an oral spray called Sativex that is a combination of two active compounds in marijuana — is expected to receive FDA approval. As the National Institute of Drug Abuse notes in its latest statement on medical use of marijuana:

Research continues on the possible therapeutic uses of marijuana and its active ingredients. Resulting medications show promise for treating neuropathic pain, addiction, multiple sclerosis, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, and other conditions.

Massachusetts is smarter than this, and deserves better. Vote no on Question 3, and let responsible, effective science take its course and be our guide.