Commentary: Marijuana does not meet criteria for acceptable medical use

(Courtesy | Truth About Proposition 2) A "mobile pot shop" used by opponents of the medical marijuana initiative to educate high school students about the dangers of marijuana is pictured here at West High School on Thursday, Oct. 25. It doesn't really have or distribute cannabis.

United States Attorney for Utah John Huber, Utah’s top federal law enforcement officer, recently said: “One important detail is being overlooked in the heated debate over medical marijuana. Marijuana is against the law, federal law. That very important aspect cannot be lost in this discussion.”

The proponents of Proposition 2 say that Utah voters must ignore the federal law because Congress will not reschedule marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug. Has anyone questioned why Congress has not rescheduled marijuana? Could it be that marijuana does not meet the test to make that determination?

According to established case law, Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics v. DEA, a drug may have a currently acceptable use in treatment in the United States if the drug meets the following five-part test:

1) “The substance’s chemistry must be scientifically established to permit it to be reproduced into dosages which can be standardized.”

2) “There must be adequate pharmacological and toxicological studies done by … experts qualified by scientific training and experience to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of drugs that the substance is safe for treating a specific, recognized disorder.”

3) “There must be adequate, well-controlled, well-designed, well-conducted and well-documented studies, including clinical investigations, by experts qualified by scientific training and experience to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of drugs. …”

4) “The drug has a New Drug Application (NDA) approved by the FDA or a consensus of the national community of experts, qualified by scientific training and experience to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of drugs.”

5) “In the absence of NDA approval, information concerning the chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology and effectiveness of the substance must be reported, published or otherwise widely available, in sufficient detail to permit experts qualified by scientific training experience to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of drugs. …”

Marijuana does not meet any of these five elements necessary for a drug to have a currently accepted medical use. The chemistry of marijuana is not reproducible in terms of creating a standardized dose. Because of the varying chemical constituents, reproducing consistent standardized doses is not possible.

Even pursuing a “Utah way” cannot make medicine safe, especially untested and genetically modified plants that are being promoted as medicine. Whole plant marijuana will be sold in the medical marijuana stores. Legitimate studies have not been done on marijuana to determine its efficacy for specific conditions, potency or correct dosage.

Speaking before legislators, a Prop 2 leader talking about medical marijuana said, “This is not about science, this is a criminal justice issue; we are not making any scientific determination.”

That is why Prop 2 is recreational, not medical marijuana.

The products that will be sold under Prop 2 can be highly dangerous and definitely destructive to the developing brain of children. A major study published in 2012 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides objective evidence that marijuana is harmful to the adolescent brain. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics opposes its legalization. Likewise, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recently offered its own policy statement opposing efforts to legalize marijuana. It similarly pointed out marijuana’s deleterious effects on adolescent brain development.

Autism is one of the qualifying illnesses allowed in the initiative. Autistic children deserve the same opportunity as all children. Putting their brains at risk with marijuana experimentation could be disastrous. Most of these children grow up to be productive adults in their own way.

The marijuana products of today are not the same as the marijuana of the 1960s that was 2 percent to 3 percent THC, which is the psychotropic part of the marijuana plant. According to a newly released federal Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area report, in 2017 the average THC potency sold in the marijuana dispensaries in Colorado was 19.6 percent for whole plant marijuana and 68.6 percent for concentrates. That is 1,000 percent to 3,500 percent more potent. Under Proposition 2, both of these products will be sold in the Utah medical marijuana stores. This is not medicine. Vote no on Proposition 2.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Gayle Ruzicka, Utah Eagle Forum, jokes as she speaks in support of Sen. Jim Dabakis' SJR16 during a Senate Education Committee meeting at the Capitol, Friday, March 2, 2018.

Gayle Ruzicka is president of Utah Eagle Forum.