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Contradicting Scientists, FDA Says Marijuana Has No Medical Value

By Gardiner Harris
THE NEW YORK TIMES


WASHINGTON

The Food and Drug Administration declared Thursday that “no sound scientific studies” support the medical use of smoked marijuana. The statement, which contradicts a 1999 review by top government scientists, inserts the health agency into yet another fierce political fight.

Susan Bro, an agency spokeswoman, said that the statement resulted from a combined review by federal drug enforcement, regulatory and research agencies that concluded that “smoked marijuana has no currently accepted or proven medical use in the United States and is not an approved medical treatment.” She said that the FDA was issuing the statement because of numerous inquiries from Capitol Hill but would likely do nothing to enforce it.

“Any enforcement based on this finding would need to be by DEA, since this falls outside of FDA’s regulatory authority,” she said.

Eleven states have legalized medicinal uses of marijuana, but the Drug Enforcement Administration and the nation’s drug czar, John Walters, have opposed those efforts. A Supreme Court decision last year allowed the federal government to arrest anyone using marijuana, even in states that have legalized its use.

Congressional opponents and supporters of medical marijuana have each tried to enlist the FDA to support their views. Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., a fierce opponent of medical marijuana initiatives, proposed legislation two years ago that would have required the FDA to issue an opinion on the medicinal properties of the drug.

Souder believes that efforts to legalize medicinal uses of marijuana are “a front” for efforts to legalize all uses of marijuana, said Martin Green, a spokesman for Souder.

Tom Riley, a spokesman for Walters, hailed the FDA statement, saying that it would put to rest “the bizarre public discussion” that has led 11 states to legalize the drug’s use.