To the editor:
There are now 18 states and the District of Columbia which have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but under federal law, marijuana remains illegal. So is marijuana medicine? The short answer is no.
As of April 22, 2013, there are 12 states with pending legalization of medical marijuana. Florida is one of these states.
In this country, all medications must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Marijuana is not approved by the FDA. To understand why marijuana is not FDA approved, it helps to know how medicines are approved through FDA testing to ensure safety and effectiveness.
If the drug does not meet FDA standards, it will not be approved and cannot be prescribed or sold as medicine. So now we ask: why isn't marijuana an FDA approved drug?
Marijuana comes from the plant cannabis sativa. It contains more than 400 different chemicals; many with unknown effects. Each differing from plant to plant.
To qualify as a medicine the drug must have well defined and measurable ingredients which are the same each time it is taken. This way a doctor can determine what dosage to prescribe and how the medicine should be taken.
Marijuana has harmful effects especially when smoked, which can lead to lung infection and coughing. Marijuana is also addictive.
Most serious drug abusers start out on marijuana.
So why do some people and states consider marijuana a medicine?
Ingredients such as THC do have medicinal effects and offer relief from symptoms. However, using marijuana as a medicine still has not been approved by the FDA because the benefits do not outweigh the risks.
Do I think we should legalize medical marijuana? No, not until FDA approves it as a safe substance.