Specter Would ‘Absolutely’ Use Medical Marijuana

June 18, 2008

Pennsylvania — U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) reportedly asserted that he would “absolutely” use medical marijuana to mitigate the effects of his cancer if Pennsylvania allowed it and if his doctor issued a prescription.

Mr. Specter had mentioned possibly sponsoring legislation years ago, after first learning of his ailment, to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.

He is reported to have also added that while he would use the substance if it were legalized, he did not endorse violating current law.

Federal law prohibits the prescription of the drug for medical purposes in any jurisdiction, although a few states have undertaken referenda to lift their own restrictions. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) maintains that these ballot measures are illegal because they circumvent the federal drug approval process overseen by the Food and Drug Administration.

“Our view is that medicines that are made available to people who are sick and who are suffering should all undergo rigorous study to make sure that they’re safe and effective,” Rafael Lemaitre, spokesman for the ONDCP, told The Bulletin, adding that the effort to legalize medical marijuana “basically inserts politics in place of science.”

Mr. Lemaitre said that medicines already exist in the marketplace to treat the eating difficulties and other effects of cancer and other diseases. Marinol, for example, contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana and is legally permitted.

He said that all of the ballot initiative campaigns have received their most crucial support and funding from groups who desire to legalize marijuana entirely.

“This is a campaign being mounted by political lobbying groups in Washington, D.C.,” Mr. Lemaitre said.

Source: Evening Bulletin, The (Philadelphia, PA)

Website: http://www.thebulletin.us

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