|Photo: The Fresh Scent
|Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske: “Calling marijuana medicine has sent the absolute wrong message to our young people”
Advocates Say Federal Health Study Exaggerates Claims, Fails To Connect The Dots
The results of a national survey on drug use and health were issued Wednesday by the federal government, noting a surge in the use of marijuana and other drugs such as ecstasy and methamphetamine. Gil Kerlikowske, head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), took the opportunity to rail against medical marijuana use.
Drug Czar Kerlikowske used the study to argue in mainstream media outlets that marijuana “is not medicine,” claiming that the issue of medical marijuana sends “mixed messages” to youth.
“I think all of the attention and the focus of calling marijuana medicine has sent the absolute wrong message to our young people,” Kerlikowske said to the Associated Press on Wednesday. He called marijuana “an entry drug” and blamed it for the overall increase in illegal drug use cited in the study.
|Caren Woodson, ASA: “The drug czar should not be using an increase in drug abuse to attack medical marijuana or to scapegoat patients”
”The drug czar should not be using an increase in drug abuse to attack medical marijuana or to scapegoat patients,” said Caren Woodson, director of government affairs at Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group.
“At the same time we’ve been adopting medical marijuana laws in the U.S., marijuana use by young people has actually decreased, contradicting the government’s main argument,” Woodson said.
According to its own study, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicated that the rate of marijuana use among youths aged 12 to 17 decreased from 8.2 percent in 2002 to 7.3 percent in 2009.
“The Obama Administration may oppose marijuana use,” Woodson said. “But, it’s very disingenuous to claim that medical marijuana is responsible for an increase in marijuana abuse or that it has fueled an increase in illegal drug abuse overall.”
A study published in the September issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior cast doubt on the argument that marijuana is a “gateway drug,” citing ethnicity, stress, and unemployment as more relevant factors in predicting whether young adults will use other illegal drugs.
Also, a previous study conducted by researchers at the University of Buffalo, recently published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, found that people often first get addicted to drugs while using prescription painkillers.
In states that have legalized medical marijuana, the number of qualified patients is commonly far lower than 1 percent of the population
“Greater numbers of patients using marijuana to treat their medical condition is a tremendous success story,” said Woodson. “Yet, those numbers are nowhere near significant enough to influence, let alone encourage, marijuana use by the remaining 99 percent of the population.