Political Science

By | May 4, 2006

No, not that kind.

The other kind, where the value of scientific research is measured by its alignment with a political agenda. I’m glad to see that it’s being challenged in the field of climate research. And I’m disturbed to see that it’s gaining ground in other areas:

IF CANNABIS were unknown, and bioprospectors were suddenly to find it in some remote mountain crevice, its discovery would no doubt be hailed as a medical breakthrough. Scientists would praise its potential for treating everything from pain to cancer, and marvel at its rich pharmacopoeia—many of whose chemicals mimic vital molecules in the human body. In reality, cannabis has been with humanity for thousands of years and is considered by many governments (notably America’s) to be a dangerous drug without utility. Any suggestion that the plant might be medically useful is politically controversial, whatever the science says. It is in this context that, on April 20th, America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement saying that smoked marijuana has no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

The statement is curious in a number of ways. For one thing, it overlooks a report made in 1999 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), part of the National Academy of Sciences, which came to a different conclusion. John Benson, a professor of medicine at the University of Nebraska who co-chaired the committee that drew up the report, found some sound scientific information that supports the medical use of marijuana for certain patients for short periods—even for smoked marijuana.

Please note that while I am personally not a pot advocate, the quoted story questioning the FDA’s judgment in this case comes from that most subversive of all hippie rags, The Economist.

  • http://robot_guy.blogspot.com Ed Minchau

    “…on April 20th, America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement saying that smoked marijuana has no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

    Was it a coincidence that they chose 4/20 to issue this statement?

  • http://www.acceleratingfuture.com/michael/blog Michael Anissimov
  • Karl Hallowell

    Even if cannabis has no legimate medical value, why are we prohibiting it while we allow alcohol and nicotine use?