Drug Czar’s Correction Still Falls Short

Aug 11, 2009 ,

Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske offered a correction on Friday to the erroneous comments he made regarding marijuana’s medical value. His new statement, however, is nearly as problematic as the old.

Last month, the drug czar told reporters that marijuana “has no medical value.” During a follow-up interview with KOMO-TV in California on Friday, he corrected that statement:

Sometimes you make a mistake and you work very hard to correct it. That happens. I should’ve clearly said ’smoked’ marijuana and then gone on to say that this is clearly a question that should be answered by the medical community.

Kerlikowske continued, saying, “The FDA has not determined that smoked marijuana has a [medical] value.”

While it’s refreshing to see a drug czar who is capable of admitting a mistake, his new statement still falls short of an honest assessment of marijuana’s medical value. The FDA’s position on medical marijuana (which is derived from a statement the agency released in 2006) is largely political and was rejected by the medical community following its release. The FDA ignored the government’s own report, published by the Institute of Medicine in 1999, which states, “there are some limited circumstances in which we recommend smoking marijuana for medical uses.”

Numerous studies have found specific medical uses for smoked marijuana, and some of the most interesting research has been done since the FDA released its statement in 2006. Several studies from the University of California, for example, have found that marijuana is highly effective at treating neuropathic pain, a type of nerve pain for which traditional pain medications are notoriously inadequate.

The drug czar’s correction falls short.

52 responses to “Drug Czar’s Correction Still Falls Short”

  1. The FDA approved vioxx, and until people died did nothing about it. Can we really trust them to give us an honest opinion on the medical efficacy of anything? Further, MJ has been used since 2700BC. NO reported deaths from marijuana smoking or otherwise. No other medicine can make that claim. The proponents of prohibition are just look silly when they talk. I guess thats what happens when you argue based on ideology and anecdotes rather than reasoned empirical evidence.

  2. Maybe the Medical Marijuana community should be promoting vaporizing instead of smoking. Then the naysayers have nothing negative to say.

  3. gil kerlikowske is a charlatan. we need to step up our activism. tell everyone you can about marijuana. go to the action area and dl and print out the action kits. let’s descend upon our cities and start up some real parties for reform. the international drug reform conference is here in Albuquerque in November. I invite as many activist that can to come. the marijuana policy project is a co sponsor and there are limited scholarships for people who can’t afford the standard price.

  4. I have to agree with my fellow David. We need to just say the word “vaporize” more often and get it out there as part of the mainstream conversation about marijuana legalization whenever possible.

  5. Why isn’t the Drug Czar’s statements being evaluated by Politifact.com? That site monitors and evaluates truthfulness of comments/statements made by politicians which the site has won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. Surely they can also take the time to evaluate the Drug Czar’s statements too. I’d love to see him get the ‘Pants on Fire’ – of course with sources to back it up.


  6. the FACT that pot is smoked is 100% meaningless,just because of in the first such a small amount is even used and second the FACT that this country allows cigarettes to be legal,and thousands die,and no one does from pot,right there any arguement against pot is just meaningless,its the goverment again telling us what we can do in the privacy of our own home,,,The pursuit of happiness ,why are we denied,and on top of that one 5 mn talk with Obama who DID INHALE,he himself needs to stop the big lie.

  7. I just sent an email to Politifact.com asking them to do a truth evaluation of the Drug Czar’s statements. I included many references and sources about the medical efficacy of using cannabis, including smoking it. I hope they will take action on this.

  8. Got an e-mail from the Whitehouse yesterday. They want me to help explain the Healthcare bill to people I know. They want the Facts to be heard not propoganda. They got my e-mail address from letters I have sent on MMJ to them.

  9. Foundation For a Drug Free World says that marijuana can cause heart attacks. I hadn’t heard that one before. Lies do nothing but cloud the issue. It’s time for the truth and the truth is that sometimes herbs are smoked for medicinal purposes, such as mullein for lung congestion. Sometimes smoking is the best way to deliver the medicine. I don’t think anyone could think it’s healthy to sit around smoking all day long!

  10. If cannabis is less expensive and plentiful and of high quality, people will chose a better way of administering it, or else it will otherwise be smoked. People like to be healthy, happy, and high. Wow….the three H’s!

  11. BTW Ben, the link “Numerous studies have found specific medical uses” in the article is incorrect. Please correct it. 🙂

  12. I don’t think the vapor machine works for everybody. That is my opinion because I have tried it a couple times and I did not feel anything…. It felt like a waste of my green. I’ll choose a bong before a vaporizer anytime because it’s just pure bud and it taste good with no tobacco in it.

  13. I hope that cannabis can be so plentiful that there will be real cannabis incense and air fresheners — air fresheners that smell like fresh harvest cannabis. That can put a smile on your face unless your a prohibitionist who stinks.

  14. David #2 and #4:

    You guys have it right… as a movement we have to push the vaporization issue better. This clarification is a prime example of the “SPIN” that the government is putting on the issue. They contend that because inhaling smoke is bad that this delivery method is unacceptable for medicine (medicine is supposed to cure not cause illness). The fact is that by vaporizing you drastically reduce this harm and yyou fulfill the IOM’s other recommendation that an “alternative rapid-onset delivery method be produced”.

    Vaporization also (sorry to burst your bubble Beyond da Smoke) allows you to use less product than if you choose a conventional method like joints or bongs. When you combust the plant material you are also burning the THC and the other Cannabiniods and because of this you actually reduce the amount you intake. Vaporization does not burn the material therefore you don’t destroy any of the good stuff.

  15. On a separate issue that maybe some of you can help me with:

    I am looking to find a new job, but I have always run into a road block when it comes down to my past convictions. In 1997 I was convicted of possesion of Cannabis (not a felony)… given a fine and community service. New employment applications typically state “Have you ever been convicted of a crime other than traffic violations?” Since this conviction happened over 10 years ago, will it still pull up on a Background Check? Do I still need to disclose this information? The conviction is also in Florida and I now live and work in Virginia, so I’m not sure if they will even look to FL.

    I might be looking into a teaching career, so a drug conviction really doesn’t look good.

    Anyone have any suggestions?

  16. I have not beren able to get high using a vaporizer and have tried 3 different kinds the currentone was rated in the top five. If I have quality pot, I only need 2 hits from a bong or pipe to get good relief. spasticity and pain from stroke. Even tho I have COPD I think that the benefit outweighs the damage.

  17. what it boils down to is the fact that the “drug czar`s” never walked in my shoes. when he or a loved one is diagnosed with terminal cancer maby then he will change his tune. but you can bet if it happens he will go into his closet and take his medicene.

  18. I just fixed the link “Numerous studies have found specific medical uses”. Thank you adle1984 for pointing out the error.

  19. Fact: Vaporized or not, smoked marijuana’s medicinal value is only 10% of the over all medicinal value. The other 90% is derived from the MJ plant itself, (taken orally,) such as Hemp Oil Medicine. Burning MJ destroys most of the healing properties.

    REFERENCE: “Run From The Cure,” video by Rick Simpson of Nova Scotia, Canada.

  20. Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske and the rest of Federal and State Officials have been contacted by a long list of Pro-marijuana medical organizations for years by Medical Professionals like the American Medical Association (AMA,) who has requested permission to further drug studies on marijuana’s ability to heal illnesses like cancer.

    Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske is practiceing a form of re-directed thinking on you. Don’t blame the FDA, the FDA does what the Presidential Administration tells it to do and obviously they’ve been told to keep the, “Schedule I,” classification for MJ or we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now!

  21. some are pot smokers, some use vaporizers(volcano anyone, or the silver surfer)

    What about chronic pain? smoked mj#23 has no benefits for that illness?


  22. The two Davi’s are correct, when we refer to Medical Marijuana, we must try and make sure people get the understanding that it will be vaporized, or cooked and eaten. With the combustion aspect out of teh picture, MOST of the negatives associated with cannabis (carcinogens, cancer potential etc) are eliminated, and then you only have the potential for DEPENDENCE to be concerned about. And as 10% of long-term users of cannabis can become dependent, it’s considerably less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, which ADDICTS 15% and over 30% respectively.

    Anything we can do to knock down the house of cards of cannabis prohibition, we should do. If that includes tailoring our language, JUST AS THEY DO, then we should do so happily!

    Once the preponderance of medical evidence begins to mount, they will have a harder time insisting it’s dangerous, when study after study after study disproves that claim, or shows the level of ‘danger’ to be less than already legal substances, alcohol and tobacco.

    All I want is PARITY. Treat it like alcohol and tobacco, nothing more, nothing less.

  23. For the staff at MPP:

    During the next round of TV debates, that you will undoubtely be part of, when the opposition refers to the 1999 IOM Report “smoked marijuana has little future as a medicine”, please respond with “well since you are obviously either a physician or chemist… where is the future in vaporized marijuana?”

    They will probably not know how to respond, and you can come in with an education as to why the government always has to include the word “smoked” when they preclude marijuana from medicine (smoke infers damage to the lungs and medicine shouldn’t cause damage – even though the real choice is whether the costs/damage of treatment – outweigh the benefits/relief of syptoms) Since they choose to bring up this report, you can further educate the country that the report also stated “there are some limited circumstances in which we recommend smoking marijuana for medical uses.” AND that they called for “an alternative rapid-onset delivery system” to be developed. Low and behold we now have the vaporizor as was suggested:

    “Using the Volcano device for the pulmonary administration of THC, a delivery is reached that is comparable to smoking, but without the presence of degradation products or harmful byproducts in significant amounts.”
    — Hazecamp, A., et al., “Evaluation of a Vaporizing Device (Volcano®) for the Pulmonary Administration of Tetrahydrocannabinol,” Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, June 2006

  24. It is actually surprising he even said this much.. it seems to me there’s a hairline crack in the otherwise titanium shell of ignorance at the ONDCP.

  25. If you have a chance, voice your health care concerns at these town meetings if you have the courage to speak about medicinal MJ. My Congressman is having everyone who can’t attend call in on a party, (no pun intended,) line that eveyone can hear at the same time. Yeah, your at the meeting by phone and you can ask your questions or give comments. Since the health care system is so uncertain at this point, that makes medicating ourselves that much more important. If you can’t save yourself with a known cure like MJ, I don’t give a hoot what the laws says about MJ, I’m going to attempt to save my life the best way I know with hemp oil and other MJ products. It’s a tough choice to be forced to pick between following the law on MJ (most of which is incorrect,) and saving one’s life via MJ meds. Moving to another State in the Union is an unrealistic option for many sick MJ patients, it’s simply too late for them.

  26. All these highly addictive and lethal pharmacuticals are perfectly okay but somehow a naturally groww flower that is smoked is much worse and more unhelpful…

  27. In the above quote, the mighty drug czar himself admits that the question of whether MJ has medicinal value, “is clearly a question that should be answered by the MEDICAL community.”!!!
    Well then why is the LAW ENFORCEMENT community answering it?

    Although he is a callous, ignorant hypocrite, Kerlikowske is only doing his job. It’s the federal policy that needs changing, beginning with the rescheduling of MJ. Schedule 1 is absurd.

  28. It is easy to counter the “smoked” issue with data from existing, but largly ignored, case studies. These studies show that in real world use, smoking cannabis does not increase mortality or risk of cancer. The fear of the smoke is a tactic that gets attention because of the clear dangers from smoking tobacco. The question not being raised is why marijuana smoking doesn’t cause the problems that tobacco smoking does. That line of research will get no funding from NIDA or the ONDCP.

  29. to number 15, beyond da smoke there are many different vaporizers out there, theres a lot of junk out there as well…. make sure you get a real good vaporizer and you will never be happier…. i have had the Extreme Vaporizer for about 6 months now and it is great. it is the best vaporizer you can get for the money $300 and you can use a whip, it blows up bags, the bowl is upright all glass where possible, otherwise its food grade tubing, 3 speed fan, lcd screen remote control…. ceramic heating element with lifetime warranty…. trust me the quality of your vaporizer is big…. you dont want one that the weed sits on a hot metal plate…. you want one that blows hot air across the weed….. try that… i promise you there is a HUGE difference between this vape and the stupid wooden boxes….

  30. “The FDA has not determined that smoked marijuana has a [medical] value.” – For anyone to be able to do research they must petition the NIDA and the only place sanctioned to grow it at the University Mississippi, and they only have gave permission to research who are conducting the ” ILL ” effects of the plant, not the benefits.

  31. To 18 DarthNole & Joe Just Legalize It

    look I understand what you are saying but I dont smoke out metal or a pipe. To be honest I have before but before that I was a blunt smoker it was aither that or nothing to me. My friend has just recently gotten me into bongs made out of glass (35$ a nice one) and $300$ is to much for me at this time due to the fact that I have brought a vaporizer before and it cost me 150$ which I though it was a good because of the comments and research I did on that vaporizer but NOP3……I dont think that works for everybody I tried 4 times and nothing on for different days. I think is because im a heavy smoker lol and now im stuck with a vaporizer that im not even using. Another thing I would to eat it but over here in northen virginia this thing cost to much. Sometimes they be selling a J for 10 dollars….to me thats a lot of fucking money compare to texas because down there for 20 dollars u get 14g lol I know thats a lot. But yeah i kinda hate this place. I want to go back to texas but Im low on cash right now……

  32. vladimir…. i too used to not like vaporizers at all…. whenever used one i never got real high….. until i tried this one at my buddies house….. wow is all i can say….. try and find someone with an extreme vaporizer and try it out….. try it with the bags too….. it makes regs feel like hydro i know the 300 is steep but its worth every penny

  33. The cartels would be poorer and our cities safer if we implemented a Personal Use and Cultivation Permit: $100 per year for a dozen plants. Split the proceeds between the States and the Fed.
    Let’s put the cartels out of business.
    Let ordinary Americans grow a little marijuana in their own back yards.

  34. Vladimir:

    All vaporizors are not made equally…. The best around is the Volcano — this is the brand used at most coffe shops in Amsterdam (it’s also referenced in the above medical studies). Do a little research on the chemistry of the plant and how the vaporizor works and you will quickly see that this is a far more efficient method of injesting marijuana. When you put a flame to the plant you destroy some of the THC… this does not occur with a vaporizor. This allows you to use less because you aren’t wasting the product and you save more money. I am a heavy smoker as well (my wife and I go though a quarter a week of high quality – $120/Q) so I can definately assure you that with the correct device this is definately a better method of delivery.

    Remember people we are talking about the use of marijuana for medicine… not for recreational use, so the complaint that you don’t get as “high” is kinda moot (as well as wrong) since those with medical illnesses aren’t using marijuana to get high but to relieve pain and suffering.

  35. Remember people, whether its medical use or personal use, this fight is about PERSONAL CHOICE< FREEDOM TO PUT IN YOU BODY WHAT YOU CHOOSE . It shouldnt be a government choice.

  36. I just got this from LEAPs news letter and wanted to share some of it with you all. keep up the fight fellow patriots.

    Walter Cronkite Recognized the Drug War Failure and the Ending Prohibition Solution

    Walter Cronkite, America’s trusted broadcaster and father figure to a nation for decades, died in New York at the age of 92 on July 17. To the last, Cronkite was perceptive and engaged in the well-being of his country and the world.

    In the final four years of his life, he publicly recognized what is perhaps America’s greatest and most perverse, if as yet unclaimed, nemesis – the failed war on drugs.

    Cronkite on LEAP’s End Prohibition Now DVD:

    “Anyone concerned about the failure of our $69 billion-a-year War on Drugs should watch this 12-minute program. You will meet front line, ranking police officers who give us a devastating report on why it cannot work. It is a must-see for any journalist or public official dealing with this issue.”
    Police Officer Supports Drug Legalization

    Darcey McLaughlin made a strong argument in favour of legalizing marijuana in his July 1 column, but he didn’t go far enough.

    I’m a Canadian police officer who supports gradually legalizing and regulating all drugs. This includes marijuana as well as ecstasy, heroin and other substances. The argument in favour of legalizing these drugs is not that they are beneficial or fun, but rather that drugs are so dangerous they need to be regulated and controlled by the government. Under prohibition the government has no control.

    It is the drug dealer who chooses price, purity, cutting agents as well as business location and operating hours. And these dealers certainly are not asking minors for ID, nor are they encouraging their customers to get addiction treatment.

    As a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, I recognize that Canadian drug laws consume enormous police resources while paying few, if any, dividends…

  37. Norm Stamper from LEAP made a comment recently about how pot smokers tend to distrust or hate law enforcement altogether, especially if they have been “through the system”.

    My recent and only encounter with law enforcement has left me with the same attitude:

    “Every Cop Is A Criminal” – Mick Jagger

  38. Once a pig always a pig.
    Obama wants health care reform but he can’t even put legalize in his vocabulary.
    Obama said he would stop raiding dispensaries but today 2 more were raided.
    Obama is a liar just like the pig.
    Once a pig always a pig.

  39. since they’re so concerned about possible harm from smoked marijuana and this idea that all medicine to be medicine shouldn’t potentially cause any other harm what about all the other medicines out there that are not only addictive but can cause kidney failure or harm the liver, let alone the fact that many of the over the counter drugs which can be purchased in quantities that would definately be harmful if not fatal. What about the warning labels they require on medicines and the commercials they have on tv for all those drugs with the list of side effects that are so long that they have play them so fast nobody can catch them all.

    Seems to me that Medical Marijuana which has been proven to be non toxic and relatively safe is being held to a much higher standard than basically anything else out there that they call medicine.

    like others have said allready there are far more dangerous and addictive things that are allready legal and regulated, why should cannabis be any different??????

  40. 41DarthNole

    I believe in medical marijuana but I also believe in recreational use for adults. I think is stupid to keep it ilegal.

  41. Just before the next presidential election, I believe we will find Obama, et al, begin the real conversation regarding medical/recreational marijuana – this will be their “ace” in the hold.

  42. Gardasil, a medication used to prevent cervical cancer in women, was reported today to have caused over 12,000 Serious Medical Conditions and 32 Deaths. There has Never been a death associated with marijuana use.

  43. One can die from almost every drug sold in a drug store and that is ok because they are legal. I have a daughter that is nine and will I have to be worried that the govt. should force her to be a victom? Yes I should. As long as the govt. knows more than any doctor or physition we should all be afraid. And now this guy named John is spouting his b.s. so from now on I will not use my first name, John I will use Clarence.

  44. If you missed one of the best idea I’ve seen on a Ganga, Herb, Cannabis comment forum. I’m going to reprint Conservative Christian’s , post here again; Contact me through You Tube (UmpquaNation) if you agree maybe we can get this great idea off the ground:
    Conservative Christian { 08.12.09 at 10:51 am }
    The cartels would be poorer and our cities safer if we implemented a Personal Use and Cultivation Permit: $100 per year for a dozen plants. Split the proceeds between the States and the Fed.
    Let’s put the cartels out of business.
    Let ordinary Americans grow a little marijuana in their own back yards.

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