Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Question of Medical Marijuana in the State of Iowa

Multiple efforts to legalize marijuana as medicine continue to be introduced to the Iowa Legislature, and to governmental bodies throughout the United States. Some states, specifically Colorado and Washington, have legalized marijuana possession during this last election cycle through ballot initiatives. Marijuana continues to be categorized as a Schedule 1 substance under federal law, which indicates that it has no currently accepted medial use in the United States.

Multiple leading organizations in the field of medicine, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the American Medical Association (AMA), National Institutes of Health, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society-do not support smoked marijuana as medicine. The AMA’s official position is to encourage the federal government to reconsider the placement of marijuana on Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.
  • The AMA, in November 2009 reported "Our AMA urges that marijuana's status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods.”
  •  “This should not be viewed as an endorsement of state-based medical cannabis programs, the legalization of marijuana, or that scientific evidence on the therapeutic use of cannabis meets the current standards for a prescription drug product."

Current standards for prescription drug products are set by the federal government. The standards set by the FDA require years of scientific testing and meticulous data review by healthcare professionals and scientist to determine both the effectiveness and safety of a drug.  Safety protocols for dispersal only begin at this point.

The FDA, and public safety protocols that have been set in place, protect the health and well-being of all citizens using evidenced based research, scientific determination of dose and method of medicine delivery, and has the ability to withdraw medication from the market should substantiation of potential negative health outcomes surface. Circumventing this system and the public safety provided through evidence based research, increases the risk of the general public being exposed and victimized by potential dangerous products. 

In an attempt to build additional momentum for the legalization of marijuana, potential legislation continues to be thrust in front of our elected representatives. The perspective highlighted during these attempts is for the comfort and care of citizens that are suffering from medical issues that impact their quality of life and have been phrased as “being compassionate to those in agony and need”. Our elected officials and the general populous, when faced with questions of compassion, have little recourse or ability to negate or discount the suffering of fellow Iowans.  This argument, for the care and well being of others, created the situation that lies before our state and our citizens. On one side of the divide are feelings of sympathy and fear of the potential vision that individuals or loved ones may experience similar pain. The other side is the potential harm of citizens being exposed to dangerous substances with no protective safe guards for public well-fare, severely limited scientific research to determine the safety of a product, and the question of why would a federally illegal substance be introduced to legislators outside of scientific systems and procedures that are in place for public safety.

There are alternatives to medical marijuana on the horizon available through prescription from doctors. With these other substances soon to be available in the U.S., it begs the question of why, as a state, are our representatives being pressured to support legislation on a substance that negatively impacts public health, youth and family development, and has the potential to negatively impact the economy through loss of business productivity and health care costs.

As the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition, we are asking our state leaders and elected officials to support our state and all citizens by being aware of the cloud of smoke that is covering the truth of medical marijuana.  For more information about medical marijuana please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at

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