Moral Low Ground

US Government

Federal Agency Recognizes Medical Use for Marijuana

For the first time, a federal agency has recognized a medicinal use for marijuana, a significant development that may benefit medical marijuana dispensaries targeted by the US government for violating the federal prohibition of cannabis, the Washington Independent reports.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), a division of the National Institute of Health, which itself is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, added to its cancer treatment database an entry on the benefits of medicinal marijuana. Not only does the NCI recognize cannabis as a palliative remedy, it also went so far as to say there may be a “direct antitumor effect” from using the drug. Here is an excerpt:

The potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep. In the practice of integrative oncology, the health care provider may recommend medicinal Cannabis not only for symptom management but also for its possible direct antitumor effect.

The NCI statement is significant because it could affect the classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug, the most serious category which also includes illegal drugs such as heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. Schedule I drugs, according to the federal government, have “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” You can see the dilemma the new NCI stance places the federal government in. Interestingly, cocaine, morphine and even methamphetamine are listed as Schedule II drugs, meaning they have some accepted medical uses, albeit with severe restrictions.

Removal of cannabis from Schedule I would lead to reduced prison populations– according to the Washington Independent, 1 in 8 US prisoners is locked up for offenses related to the production, sale or use of a naturally-occurring plant, a plant which has been used for medicinal, spiritual, practical and recreational use by humans for thousands of years.

Thirty-four states have enacted laws that recognize the medicinal properties of cannabis. Fifteen states, plus the District of Columbia, allow legal, medical use of the drug. The stance of the Obama administration, as stated by Attorney General Eric Holder, is that the Department of Justice will not raid medical marijuana dispensaries as long as they are in compliance with existing state laws. Still, the feds have stopped short of decriminalizing the plant. The NCI recognition is one more nail in the coffin of marijuana prohibition in America.


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  1. Gianmarco Conegliano via FacebookMarch 28, 2011 at 8:22 pmReply

    So MJ is a gateway-drug to… Prozac?

  2. wrecker14September 28, 2011 at 7:28 amReply

    Just so you know, Cocaine is actually a Schedule II drug, meaning the federal government has recognized it has some medical value. Kinda crazy.

    • Brett WilkinsSeptember 28, 2011 at 9:10 amReplyAuthor

      Thanks for the correction. I had heard about its use in eye surgery as a local anesthetic…

      • mattbluesmanSeptember 28, 2011 at 10:08 amReply

        Also, It can be used as a local anesthetic in nasal surgery I had to have some surgery to correct a closed off nostril a few years ago and that was what they used for anesthetic.

    • docodSeptember 28, 2011 at 12:45 pmReply

      I work in a hospital pharmacy and we compound a dilute cocaine solution for neonates that are born addicted to narcotics because the mother used drugs during her pregnancy. Really sad actually…

  3. ElliotSeptember 28, 2011 at 8:49 amReply

    Actually, cocaine is listed as a Schedule II drug. This means that, in the US, cocaine has limited accepted medical uses.

    • Brett WilkinsSeptember 28, 2011 at 9:11 amReplyAuthor

      Thanks for the correction… I should have known this; I once saw a show about eye surgery and they used cocaine as a local anesthetic.

  4. Jimmy JohnSeptember 28, 2011 at 10:16 amReply

    FYI both cocaine and amphetamines are actually schedule 2 drugs. Yes that’s right, our government considers cocaine and meth to have more medicinal value than marijuana.

  5. JinxSeptember 28, 2011 at 10:57 amReply

    And tobacco, highly addictive and with no current medical use, is NOT Schedule I. Follow the money at it’s best!

  6. IT is messed upSeptember 28, 2011 at 11:27 amReply

    I have ADHD and if medical cannabis is legalized I can get off the amphetamines that I have been on since I was eight. Currently my body has become used to my medications and from the dose I am on i now have anxiety issues, unfortunately the next step is meth…

    Thats right Methamphetamine aka Desoyxn is the next step for me. Its pharmacuetical grade meth that my doctor will prescribe to me next, over a plant

  7. S.G.September 28, 2011 at 12:25 pmReply

    The schedule system is so warped.

    In Schedule I you have things like cannabis… which as this article states has numerous obvious medicinal uses, and is virtually harmless even if it did not.

    Then you have other near-harmless substances like MDMA (ecstasy), LSD, and Psilocybin (mushrooms) which have very little potential for abuse, and are literally the only known treatments for disorders such as PTSD and certain severe phobias.

    Heroin is schedule I, despite being less addictive and harmful than morphine (research it– it was developed specifically as an alternative to morphine, and it is used very commonly as a painkiller in the UK).

    Then cocaine and methamphetamine are NOT schedule I, despite massive abuse potential, and the fact that neither is commonly used medically due to having superior alternatives.

    The system would be less infuriating if it had any basis in reality or reason. So many banished substances with legitimate medical purposes, and so many legal pharmaceuticals that are utterly terrifying (Ambien scares the crap out of me).

  8. Vincent Von DudlerSeptember 28, 2011 at 8:07 pmReply

    The medical marijuana argument is ALWAYS only _support_ to the fact that it is a civil liberty to be able to smoke marijuana. It’s never the primary reason why federal prohibition should end. Our RIGHT first, wonderdrug second. This medical marijuana bullsh!t has to stop. It should be legal for all responsible adults. REPEAL federal prohibition. Leave the decision up to the states. And states – leave it up to an initiative or referendum. Stop spending the public’s money on a failed drug war that we don’t even WANT! Stop protecting the drug cartels by disallowing legitimate companies from making money selling marijuana! Stop throwing people in prison that are exercising their civil liberties! Stop the insanity NOW!

  9. Green WellnessNovember 12, 2014 at 4:52 pmReply

    Finally, federal agencies that are standing up and endorsing medical marijuana. It’s a civil liberty to use marijuana, one that every person in the U.S. should have a right to. If more federal agencies would recognize the medicinal properties of cannabis, we would see legalization across the country and rapid change.

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