Pharmacy Board's Paternalistic Prescription for Iowa Patients

Jun 02, 2009

Institute of Medicine, Iowa, science

Apparently, the Iowa Board of Pharmacy's standard of proof for the efficacy and safety of medical marijuana is pretty high. Much higher, than that of, say, the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine, which in 1999 concluded, "Nausea, appetite loss, pain, and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting and all can be mitigated by marijuana."

The board was required by a court order to evaluate the scientific evidence surrounding medical marijuana Monday to determine whether it ought to be reclassified under the state's controlled substances list.

But the board's justification for rejecting the evidence presented said much more about the board's condescending attitude toward medial marijuana and its advocates than it did about the evidence itself.

Seizing on one small point made by advocates – that 13 states had already passed medical marijuana laws – here's what Guthrie County pharmacist DeeAnn Wedemeyer-Oleson had to say:

I liken this a lot to when I was a junior in high school and I pleaded to my dad that the time I should be allowed to stay out at night should be extended to one o'clock in the morning.

I said, I was a junior in high school and all my other friends got to stay out until one o'clock in the morning. And he said, 'well if all of your friends jumped off the bridge, does that mean you should jump off the bridge?'

That's cool. I liken Wedemeyer-Oleson's logic to when I was in kindergarten and would stick my fingers in my ears and sing loudly whenever a grownup would try to tell me something I didn't want to hear.

[update: Carl Olsen, whose group won the court order that led to the pharm board's review, makes an important point in comment #3 that I missed in my original post. The argument that 13 states already accept medical marijuana's safety and efficacy is by no means small. It should have been crucial to the board's decision if they'd applied the Iowa legal standard of whether marijuana has any accepted medical use in the United States. Thanks for clarifying that, Carl.]