They Said It On Marijuana, Quotable Saturday, Part XIX

Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man…. Marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.

Estimates suggest that from 20 to 50 million Americans routinely, albeit illegally, smoke marijuana without the benefit of direct medical supervision. Yet, despite this long history of use and the extraordinarily high numbers of social smokers, there are simply no credible reports to suggest that consuming marijuana has caused a single death. By contrast, aspirin, a commonly used, over-the-counter medicine, causes hundreds of deaths each year.”

A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly fifteen hundred pounds of marijuana within about 15 minutes to induce a lethal response… In strict medical terms, marijuana is far safer than many of the foods we commonly consume. For example, eating ten raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death.

All three of the above quotes, believe it or not, come straight from a DEA Administrative Judge’s September 6, 1988 Ruling.

The ruling is from Judge Francis L. Young and it came as part of his recommendation that marijuana be made available as a legal medicine. The DEA Administrator overruled Judge Young, and the courts allowed that decision to stand.

Around our office we like to tell of a conversation between the 89 year old father of one of our lawyers, who had suffered from chronic nausea for years (arising from radiation treatments for leukemia) and his physician. Marijuana, though illegal in his state, was working for this patient but he was concerned about possible ill effects from taking “too much.” He asked his physician about potential harmful side effects from the marijuana he was taking and his doctor’s response was that the worst thing that could happen to him would be that he would fall asleep.

Now don’t get us wrong, we are NOT saying marijuana is never harmful. For example, we believe that good science seems to show that marijuana can be harmful to brain development in children. But we are most emphatically saying that the dangers of marijuana have been way overblown and we are saying that there is no scientific basis for keeping it as a Schedule 1 drug. We are also saying that opposing its legalization based on its purported dangers makes almost no sense at all.