Assuaging the Opposition

If you’re from Ohio or interested in its cannabis policies, you may have seen my April 7th interview with the Ohio News Network (ONN):

Via ONN, this interview made its way across state to Toledo and maybe beyond.

I was interested to hear the comments made by Patricia Harmon of the Drug Free Action Alliance. For one, Ms. Harmon asserted,

“In states that have passed medical marijuana laws, the youth use is higher than it is in states that have not passed it.”

Not so. A 2009 Congressional Research Service review of state and federal policies concerning medical marijuana concluded,

“No clear patterns [concerning teen use] are apparent in the state-level data. Clearly, more important factors are at work in determining a state’s prevalence of recreational marijuana use than whether the state has a medical marijuana program.” (p. 32)

In fact,

“California, the state with the largest and longest-running medical marijuana program, ranked 34th in the percentage of persons age 12-17 reporting marijuana use in the past month during the period 2002-2003.” (p. 32)

Ms. Harmon also claimed that

“the federal government has failed to find any positive use for marijuana.”

I would characterize that to be a failure as well. In 1998, DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] Administrative Law Judge Francis Young recommended,

“that the Administrator [of the DEA] conclude that the marijuana plant considered as a whole has currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, that there is no lack of accepted safety for use of it under medical supervision and that it may lawfully be transferred from Schedule I to Schedule II.” (p. 68)

That was over 20 years ago. Further, because cannabis remains in Schedule I in defiance of his recommendation, the federal government has routinely obstructed research.

According to an April 2010 “Perspective” piece in the New England Journal of Medicine,

“Restrictive federal law and, until recently, aggressive federal law enforcement have hamstrung research and medical practice involving marijuana.” (p. 1453)

Thus, it’s a circular argument to on one hand conclude that the federal government has failed to “find any positive use for marijuana,” while on the other hand, have that same government thwart the very research that would find that positive use.

All in all, I was pleased with the interview, for it served as a great opportunity to meet the opposition and assuage their concerns.