Drug War

But Remember: Marijuana Is Not Medicine

|

The East Bay Express reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration has licensed 55 companies to grow cannabis for use in producing generic versions of the THC capsule Marinol, whose patent protection recently expired, or pharmaceutical products containing cannabidiol, another marijuana component that shows medical promise. Yes, this is the same DEA that raids medical marijuana dispensaries and refuses to allow an independent source of marijuana for research to compete with the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Although many patients prefer marijuana for various reasons (including easier administration, faster onset, better dose control, and less disturbing psychoactive effects), the existence of Marinol, originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1985 as a treatment for the nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy, has always belied drug warriors' claims that cannabis has no therapeutic value. But if the DEA is prepared to allow production of marijuana-derived THC as well as the synthetic form, and if the FDA ultimately allows the cannabis extract Sativex to be marketed in the U.S., the distinction between government-approved medicine and government-condemned contraband will become even thinner.

In 2008 I noted that the U.S. government holds a patent for the medical use of cannabinoids.

NEXT: So, Tim Pawlenty Walks Into Cato, and...

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Surely some kind of legal case could be put together with this?

    1. Maybe, but forcing the federal government to recognize the medical uses of marijuana and allow it to be prescribed (presumably as a Schedule III drug like Marinol) wouldn’t be a huge win.

      1. hey, it would be something at least. a change down to (at a minimum) schedule II, and III would be even better would mean that the feds were admitting it at least has SOME legitimate medical use. that would be a huge impediment on their raids etc. of mj clinics, etc.

        they are holding on to the legal fiction that it has no medical use, because it justifies (philosophically as well as legally in their eyes) going after states that do legalize it, even partially via medical mj

        1. I’d rather the feds hold their ground and force the showdown with the states that looks likely on this issue.

          1. yea, I see that point as having validity. I guess it’s a tactical argument, as to which would be better.

            if governor gregoire wasn’t such a fucking pussy, we could have the showdown. she sucks

  2. The Medical Marijuana lobby just doesn’t donate as much to Obama as the drug companies do.

  3. Can we ‘no knock warrant’ crash into the Uber-popo’s houses and shoot?

    Pretty please.
    I will dress as a cop even…

    1. I see pron in your future

  4. I tend to be a little claustrophobic. I may have to stop reading H&R. Every time I read one of these posts about the state’s venality and stupidity, I feel the walls closing in.

    1. Come for the pessimism, stay for the defeatism.

      1. I lol’d through my tears.

  5. the distinction between government-approved medicine and government-condemned contraband will become even thinner

    I doubt that very much.

  6. the distinction between government-approved medicine and government-condemned contraband will become even thinner.

    You couldn’t be more wrong. One profits established institutions by being legal, and the other profits established institutions by being illegal. You can’t get much more distinct than that.

  7. That’s weird, cuz I just checked the DEA website, and THC is still listed as “Schedule 1” — “The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

  8. Marijuana will never be legalized because too many people profit from its illegality. Importers, Growers, Dealers, “Legal Blend” Companies, Police, Prisons, and Lawyers come to mind.

    Growing it for use in a “legal drug” has nothing to do with the “illegal drug”.

    1. i disagree. i have heard so many of these predictions fall by the wayside.

      my prediction is that the feds will accept (wholly and completely) the right of states to legalize medical mj within 15 yrs. probably sooner.

      the momentum is building, and there is enough bipartisan support.

      what i find ironic is the almost reverse situation between mj and opium

      opium poppies are actually (generally speaking) legal to grow in many jurisdictions. it is only the extraction of drugs from the plant that becomes legally prohibited.

      mj, otoh, is always (according to the feds) illegal to grow or possess – as a plant, but some derivatives of the plant that extract the very active ingredient sought by the drugs users e.g. marinol is ok, albeit scheduled.

      1. I’m betting it will be rescheduled, but I doubt it will ever be legalized. It’s psychoactive and the guvmn’t seems to have a problem with anything like that.

        I’m betting it’s harder to refine poppies into, say, heroin, than it is to turn a marijuana plant into marketable weed.

        It seems the thing that is refined is permitted to be used as a drug for medical purposes, which makes sense, if you’re a drug company.

        1. I’m betting it’s harder to refine poppies into, say, heroin, than it is to turn a marijuana plant into marketable weed.

          Making heroin would involve some chemistry, but it would definitely be simpler than making meth. However, it is ridiculously simple to make something you can get high from (opium) from opium poppies.

          1. it’s as simple as making tea from it. opium tea is pretty popular and mentioned in all sorts of “get high” sites.

            making heroin would involve a lot of chemistry, you are correct. but the resin , the poppy straw, etc. all contain bioavailable opioids, which is why it is illegal to possess them.

            opium is the drug contained in these poppies, and it is a powerful drug, no alteration needed.

            opioid drugs are DERIVED from opium (setting aside synthetic opioids for clarity), but opium itself is powerful in and of itself.

            iirc, in xanadu did kubla khan and shit

            1. On the one hand, yes, it is illegal to possess opium poppies; on the other hand, there isn’t actually any such beast as a non-opium poppy. Any old poppies you can grow contain opium, and you can run down to any garden center or Home Depot and buy all the packets of poppy seeds you want. Just another dirty little secret the government would prefer you remain ignorant of.

  9. Fucking hypocrites. I’m really getting sick of this god damn schedule 1 bullshit. they make opiates from morphine heroin which is schedule 1. put a very safe and useful group of chems (psychedelics) on sched 1, and then have the batshit illogical idea of putting one of the safest therapeutic substances up there with Sched 1. Never mind cocaine being accepted for medical use. They whole system is backwards and flawed at the deepest levels. Forget about all the legal opiates that are fucking addictive as fuck and fuck peoples lives up. Whoever writes this shit is either a evil lying bastard, or they’re the kind of people that evolution will eventually take care of. Either way, I’m glad i learned the truth as early as possible. Thanks bro-

  10. Many people in many places are profiting from MJ being SCHD1.

    Good luck.

    puff-puff-pass

    1. including a hell of a lot of drug dealers.

      1. ..and they are private business folk, and not subsidized by the taxpayer like the courts, cops, and corrections establishment.

        1. or the congress, you know the one body you didn’t mention, but the one that has sole responsibility for the fact that MJ is illegal in the first place!

  11. I used to know an aids patient who took marinol. He said that it didn’t have the same positive effects on his appetite that marijuana had.

    1. Same here. I know an AIDS patient who has a prescription for Marinol, but his doctor told him that marijuana works better, and that he should use that if he can get ahold of it.

  12. Umm, hate to break it to y’all but donabinol (Marinol) is synthetic and deosn’t require any cannabis plants to produce.

    The farms are for the soon to be approved Sativex from GW Pharmaceutical. Perhaps Mr. Sullum is confused because part of getting Sativex approved is rescheduling organic THC to Federal schedule III. Just like the British insist on calling prescription heroin diamorphine, the DEA refuses to acknowledge that organic THC has valid use and in an “am I in an alternate universe?” moments, the DEA has dubbed organic THC as an analog of dronabinol. The synthetic version of Marinol has given birth to the very substance that it was created to duplicate. Through the looking glass indeed.

    1. There wouldn’t be that many licenses required just for that. GW would grow it all in one place. No, from the article (not Mr. Sullum) it would appear that applications have been made to produce a equivalently bioavailable versions of dronabinol from cannabis extracts, and the prospective makers of these generic knock-offs have applied to have the plant-derived cannabinols rescheduled.

    2. However, the GW products are coming eventually, and will put an end to the med mj issue. Doctors even in med mj states who’ve been reticent to prescribe marijuana will prescribe these non-smoked extracts, which will be sprayed under the tongue rather than smoked, and eventually probably be available in unobtrusive skin patches, and maybe inhaled versions too. They’ll have the same effects as smoked cannabis but without smoking, so the whole issue of whether people should be allowed to smoke where tobacco smoking is prohibited will go away too. Victory thru technology. No more co-ops, caretakers, none of that hypocrisy. It’ll just be a drug business like any other, and people will forget it was ever controversial.

  13. There’s even less need for the farms when the plant is not needed to produce the drug. Regardless, what I posted earlier is in fact what is happening. Remember, Marinol has been in the Feds schedule III for almost a decade now.

    http://www.drugwarrant.net/files/2010-27502.pdf

    “The submissions to DHHS also requested that they consider
    (1) whether dronabinol extracted from Cannabis sativa (i.e. naturally-derived), is identical to synthetically-produced dronabinol found in Marinol?; and

    (2) whether a formulation encapsulated in hard gelatin capsules, instead of soft gelatin capsules, changes a product’s abuse potential.

    On March 17, 2010, and June 1, 2010, the Assistant Secretary for Health, DHHS, sent the Deputy Administrator of DEA scientific and medical evaluations and letters recommending that FDA approved drug products containing dronabinol (both naturally-derived or synthetic) in sesame oil in a gelatin capsule (either hard or soft gelatin) be placed into schedule III of the CSA.”

  14. BTW, smoking isn’t required to gain the benefits of whole plant cannabinoid medicine and never has been. You can get sub-lingual tinctures, topical salves, edibles, and even suppositories at the medicinal cannabis dispensaries and there is a vigorous campaign in the medicinal cannabis community to make patients aware of the alternative delivery methods.. Are you even aware that the vaporizer is proven safe as well as preferred by patients by a margin of 7-1 in peer reviewed research published in early 2010?
    http://www.cmcr.ucsd.edu/index…..Itemid=135

    The smoking thing has always been nothing other than a red herring. It’s stunningly mind boggling how many people think that smoking is the only delivery method available.

    The California Compassionate Use act is likely never going to go away. The only way to amend or repeal the CUA is with another citizen generated ballot initiative. It cost $1.5 million to get Prop 19 on the 2010 ballot and I doubt the likelihood of anyone putting up that kind of dough to get an arcane law repealed. The Know Nothing prohibitionists have never even come close to getting a repeal ballot initiative in front of the voters. The latest failed attempt was in Montana for the 2010 ballot.

    I have no clue what you’re talking about when you say “No more co-ops, caretakers, none of that hypocrisy.” The only hypocrisy WRT medicinal cannabis patient protection laws of which I’m aware comes from hack politicians promoting a self serving political agenda, and law enforcement who actively work to sabotage and/or emasculate these laws. Gosh, how many times in my life have I heard the statement, “we only enforce the law. If you don’t like it get it changed. But when push came to shove that’s been demonstrated to be nothing but lip service.

    disclosure: I own a very large stake (to me) in GW Pharmaceuticals. Cannabinoid medicine is going to be the most significant advance in the science of human medicine since the advent of antibiotics.

  15. Wow great article.Thank you so much for sharing this info.Keep it up!

  16. Marijuana plays a significant role in medicines for different types of diseases.It is also used for other purposes.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.