Ignoring the Facts on Medical Marijuana

| by NORML

By Paul Armentano

“In the words of John Adams, ‘facts are stubborn things, and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.’”

So began the ironically titled op/ed, “Facts on medical marijuana are stubborn things, too,” by Joseph Summerill —general counsel for the Major County Sheriffs’ Association — which appeared in print in the Washington Examiner newspaper on Sunday.

Yet as far as ‘facts’ were concerned, Summerill’s propaganda piece was altogether devoid of them.

My colleague Russ Belville properly eviscerated Summerill’s tripe on the NORML blog here. My own rebuttal appears today in the Examiner here.

Medical marijuana reduces pain

Re: “Facts on medical marijuana are stubborn things, too,” Oct. 24

Author Joseph Summerill is correct to assert that “facts … are stubborn things.” So stubborn, in fact, that he chooses to ignore them completely.

Summerill alleges, “The undisputable facts, however, are that there are no sound scientific data supporting the medical value of marijuana.” The website PubMed Central, the U.S. government repository for peer-reviewed scientific research, disagrees. In fact, a simple word search on PubMed using the keyword “marijuana” reveals more than 2,100 published papers in peer-reviewed journals just this year alone.

Of course, not every one of these papers pertain to the substance’s therapeutic potential. But many do.

For example, the results of a series of randomized, placebo-controlled Food and Drug Administration-approved clinical trials performed by regional branches of the University of California demonstrated that inhaled cannabis holds therapeutic value that is comparable to or better than conventional medications, particularly in the treatment of multiple sclerosis and neuropathic pain. These findings were publicly presented to the California legislature, and also appear online here: Further, the UC findings paralleled those previously reported by no less than the American Medical Association’s Council on Science and Public Health, which declared, “Results of short term controlled trials indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.”

Those are the facts, Mr. Summerill. It’s time to stop denying them.