"Since when is the U.S. government in the business of distributing marijuana cigarettes?" Rachel Ehrenfeld asks in a Forbes.com commentary. "Is this part of the health care programs the Obama administration is so keen to enforce?" The short answers: 1) since 1978 and 2) no. Based on nothing more than a solicitation for proposals from the National Institute on Drug Abuse seeking contractors to produce and distribute "marijuana cigarettes," Ehrenfeld concludes, in a piece headlined "ObamaCare's Medical Marijuana," that the president's vision of health care, thanks to the influence of George Soros (I swear, that's what she says), includes free joints for everybody. Or something like that:
The evidence about the harm caused by marijuana to the individual user and society is overwhelming. Yet the government is now moving for large production and distribution of marijuana. If this is part of the ObamaCare project, it would surely cause the opposite of what it is purporting to do.
This may be the only good thing I've heard about Obama's health care reforms so far. Alas, it is all a figment of Ehrenfeld's drug-fueled imagination. Since 1978 NIDA has been providing government-approved joints, made from marijuana grown at the University of Mississippi, to a few select patients under the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program. The first patient to receive Uncle Sam's pot was Robert Randall, who won a federal lawsuit demanding access to marijuana for treating his glaucoma. (A separate lawsuit by Randall, seeking the reclassification of marijuana so it can be prescribed by doctors, led to a 1987 ruling in which the DEA's chief administrative law judge called marijuana "one the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.") At its peak, the compassionate IND program (which in theory was a set of one-subject studies) served about a dozen patients. In 1992, spooked by a flood of requests from AIDS patients, the Bush administration closed the program to new applicants but continued to serve those already enrolled. Today just a few patients—four as of May 2008, according to the Marijuana Policy Project—continue to receive NIDA joints.
Given the tiny size of the remaining program, most of the marijuana cigarettes that triggered Ehrenfeld's pot allergy are probably destined for research. Since the research is sponsored by NIDA, Ehrenfeld will be relieved to hear, it will no doubt focus on marijuana's dangers, as opposed to its medical utility.
[via the MPP's Bruce Mirken]