Testimony on Medical Marijuana
Iowa Board of Pharmacy Hearing Testimony
“Medical” Marijuana, November 4, 2009
Good morning, my name is Susie Dugan. I am the Director of Communications for Drug Watch International, which is an all-volunteer international non-profit network of doctors, lawyers, journalists, addiction specialists, drug prevention advocates, policy makers, concerned parents, parents who have lost children because of problems caused by marijuana use, as well as members of the public. Drug Watch International supports the creation of healthy drug-free cultures throughout the world and opposes the legalization of drugs. Our mission is to provide policy makers, the media and the public with current information, factual research, expert resources and to counter pro-drug advocacy propaganda.
I have been fighting for drug-free youth in the Omaha and Council Bluffs area and beyond for over thirty years. I am the former executive director of PRIDE-Omaha, Inc. and am a semi-retired Project Director for that organization today. PRIDE-Omaha, Inc. serves as the international headquarters for Drug Watch International, and I appear before you today representing Drug Watch to strongly oppose any effort to legalize marijuana, even under the guise of “medicinal” marijuana.
I have followed the pro-marijuana lobby for all of my career in drug prevention. Back in 1980, the Families in Action Newsletter reported that in 1979, Keith Stroup, then the director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) told Emory University students that NORML would help reclassify marijuana as medicine, “as a red herring to give marijuana a good name.” The goal of NORML has always been the complete legalization and normalization of marijuana use.
The so-called “medical” marijuana movement has, indeed, grown since then. With millions of dollars from billionaire George Soros and other pro-marijuana advocates, we now have too many states that have fallen prey to the junk science lobby that is promoting marijuana as “medicine”.
Iowa would be very wise to examine what has actually happened in those states that have already voted to declare crude marijuana to be “medicine”. Despite recent national news stories that imply that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is opening the door to “medical” marijuana or to the legalization of marijuana, please note that in the packet that I have provided, the present administration is nonetheless making it clear that the raw marijuana plant is not medicine. And, to quote Gil Kerlikowske, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, “Any state considering medical marijuana should look very carefully at what has happened in California.”
In my packet I also have many reports on what has actually happened in California and other “medical” marijuana states. The picture is much grimmer than the individual stories you might probably hear today.
In the 2009 White Paper on Marijuana Dispensaries issued by the California Police Chiefs Association’s Task Force on Marijuana Dispensaries, the task force points out that California dispensaries are “commonly large money-making enterprises that will sell marijuana to most anyone” The report further states that, “Drug dealing, sales to minors, loitering, heavy vehicle and foot traffic in retail areas, increased noise, and robberies of customers just outside dispensaries are also common ancillary byproducts of their operations.” The executive summary of the report ends with the statement, “Too often medical marijuana’ has been used as a smokescreen for those who want to legalize it and profit off it, and storefront dispensaries established as cover for selling an illegal substance for a lucrative return.”
In your packet also is an October 28, 2009 story from the Los Angeles Times that documents how easy it was for a healthy reporter to obtain a doctor’s recommendation for “medical” marijuana. I have also included a report on the many, many California cities and counties that have had to resort to banning “medical” marijuana dispensaries because of all of the problems associated with them.
Indeed, Charles Lane, in a Washington Post editorial on October 22, 2009, objected to and condemned “medical” marijuana, stating, among other things, that, “It always bugs me when some group of true believers tries to foist its views on the public in the guise of science. This is especially pernicious when it involves selling phony remedies for real disease.” He went on to state, “Of course, laws like California’s, which, in practice, permit people to get pot for practically any purported malady under the sun, show that the medical rationale is a cover for recreational use.”
In a September 26, 2009 story in the Michigan Daily Press newspaper (a copy of which is included in your packet), Jeff Racine, Commander of the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team (UPSET) reports that in Michigan, another “medical” marijuana state, “Some patients, as well as some caregivers who are allowed to grow pot, are abusing the law and obtaining permits through fraud. This deception is creating more problems for law enforcement in Michigan and the other states which have enacted medical marijuana laws.”
Marijuana is a dangerous drug that has numerous side effects, one of which is the possible suppression of the immune system. In actuality, marijuana can make sick people sicker. No national or international medical association has approved smoked marijuana as medicine. Just the opposite. All agree that smoking is not an appropriate delivery system for any medication. To safely prescribe any medicine, the strength, purity, effectiveness, proper dose for a specific medical condition, and its interaction with other medications must be known. Crude marijuana’s chemistry can be changed by exposure to light and air. It is unstable and unpredictable.
Medicine must NOT be based on anecdotal accounts of benefits, but on peer-reviewed, scientific research. The Institute of Medicine in its famous 1999 in-depth study and report on marijuana emphatically concluded that, “Marijuana’s future as medicine does not involve smoking”. That study only supported research into the development of new, safe delivery systems of drugs related to the COMPOUNDS found in and then isolated from the marijuana plant.
Indeed, many plants, animals, and minerals have medicinal properties, but that alone does not translate into them being safe or effective for medicinal use in their crude form.
We don’t chew the foxglove plant to get digitalis, a drug used to treat heart disease.
We don’t drink the urine of pregnant horses to get estrogen replacement.
We don’t eat moldy bread to get penicillin.
And, sick people should not smoke a crude weed and call it “medical” marijuana.