Conservatives Support Science; Marihuana is not Medicine

The Conservative Party of New York State is urging the Members of the State Legislature to follow science and the accepted principles of medicine to reject a bill that supports the medical use of marihuana. The memo issued to the Members follows:

Party Position:

In Opposition to "Medical" Marihuana, S.4406 (Savino)/A.6357 (Gottfried)

Marihuana is not medicine. If it is to be considered as medicine, it should be treated as such and subjected to the Food and Drug Administration approval process that includes clinical trials to determine its efficacy as a medication.

Some people may "feel better" after smoking or ingesting marihuana, but that does not make it medicine.  The reasons some people "feel better" is simple: according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marihuana's main psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), binds to cannabinoid (CB) receptors, widely distributed throughout the nervous system and other parts of the body. In the brain, CB receptors are found in high concentrations in areas that influence pleasure, memory, thought, concentration, sensory and time perception, appetite, pain and movement coordination.  That is why marihuana can have wide-ranging effects, including:

  • Impaired short-term memory.

Marihuana use can make it hard to learn and retain information, particularly complex tasks.

  • Slowed reaction time and impaired motor coordination.

It can throw off athletic performance, impair driving skills and increase risk of injuries;

  • Altered judgment and decision making.

Experts say this can contribute to high-risk sexual behaviors that could lead to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases;

  • Increased heart rate.

It can jump by 20% to 100%, which may increase the risk of heart attack, especially in otherwise vulnerable individuals;

  • Altered mood.

In some, Marihuana can induce euphoria or calmness; in high doses it can cause anxiety and paranoia.

  • Addiction;
  • Poorer educational outcomes, poorer job performance and diminished life satisfaction;
  • Respiratory problems (chronic cough, bronchitis);
  • Risk of psychosis in vulnerable individuals;
  • Cognitive impairment persisting beyond the time of intoxication.

In the federal court case of Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics v.DEA 15 Fed 1131 (D.D.C. 1994) the US District Court accepted the five-part test for determining whether a drug is in "currently accepted medicinal use."  Id at 1135.    

The test requires that:

1. The drug's chemistry must be known and reproducible;

2. There must be adequate safety studies;

3. There must be adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy;

4. The drug must be accepted by qualified experts; and

5. The scientific evidence must be widely available.

Applying these criteria to crude Marihuana, the court found that the drug had no currently accepted medical use.

Drug approval must be based on science and not merely what a group or individual desires.

 A major study, "EarlyFindings in Controlled Studies of Herbal Cannabis: A Review," concluded that despite the widespread public interest in the therapeutic potential of herbal cannabis.... "the data alone fails to make the case that crude, smoked cannabis should be made available to patients."  Numerous other studies have replicated those findings.  

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), the New York Society of Addiction Medicine (NYSAM), the American Medical Association (AMA) and numerous other national and state organizations are also opposed to marihuana as medicine in smoked or eaten form.

Despite the claims that this bill is strict, it is not.

  • Certification for pot is good for one year - Physicians may prescribe Schedule 2 drugs for 30 days only. Under this  proposal, there is no requirement to specify dosage – very unlike prescribing any form of medicine and there is no requirement for re-evaluation before then;     
  • Certification can be issued not only by physicians, but by PA's (physician's assistant) or NP's (nurse practitioner) - this contrary to accepted roles of  PA's and NP's since they are not able to diagnose and treat for any of the qualifying conditions and the practitioner is not required to have a continuing relationship with the patient - so someone could walk in, get a certification, and walk out;
  • Qualifying conditions are much too broad - by listing specific conditions, and not even linking them to the requirement that they be "severe[ly] debilitating or life-threatening," patient can qualify merely because he/she has a condition, regardless of whether the condition's severity;
  • There is no requirement or provision for the practitioner to specify dosage;
  • There is no limitation on amount, other than the limitation that a patient cannot possess more than 2½ ounces at a time - so patient could get 2½ ounces a day;
  • Caregiver can "take care" of up to 5 patients  - so 1 caregiver could obtain 12½ ounces at one time;
  • Patient can designate 2 caregivers - but can designate an unlimited number of additional caregivers if caregiver is a member of immediate family or physical household [no verification required to be submitted);
  • No background check required for the caregiver - can be a convicted drug dealer.

The New York State Conservative Party is strongly opposed to this proposed bill and takes this opportunity to remind you what Richard Cowan, stated in 1993 "Medical Marihuana is our strongest suit. It is our point of leverage which will move us toward the legalization of Marihuana for personal use."  Unfortunately, this strategy is working, Colorado and Washington began with "medical" marihuana, now they defy federal law and allow the personal use.  We strongly urge a NO vote.


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