The Data Quality Act
Marijuana as Medicine
The History of Prohibition

Persons seeking information about the pros and cons of marijuana's use as medicine should be able to rely on the truthfulness of information put forth by their own government's agencies. Sadly, in the issue of medical marijuana, Americans cannot rely on the United States government's premier drug agency, the Department of Justice's Drug Enforcement Administration, to present all the information, to present truthful information, and not to present information which is off the subject and which serves to raise false arguments.

The U. S. DEA, through its presentation of information on its website, attempts to influence states' voters on issues before the states' electorates and further to sway public opinion toward a particular political position, acts which fall outside the acceptable and legal domain of a governmental agency. The DEA must allow the scientific process to evaluate the potential therapeutic effects of marijuana for certain disorders, dissociated from the societal debate over the potential harmful effects of nonmedical marijuana use.

The Data Quality Act

During December of 2000, as a two-paragraph provision buried in an appropriations bill, Congress enacted the DQA primarily in response to increased use of the internet, which gives agencies the ability to communicate information easily and quickly to a large audience. Under the DQA, federal agencies must ensure that the information it disseminates meets certain quality standards. Congress' intent was to prevent the harm that can occur when government websites, which are easily and often accessed by the public, disseminate inaccurate information. Click here to read the Data Quality Act.

With the passage of the Data Quality Act, federal agencies must have the most relevant and current information available on its official web page. Both the DEA and FDA have not done so. DEA: Exposing the Myth of Smoked Marijuana and The DEA Position On Marijuana What about alternatives to smoking; i.e edibles for pain, tincture for glaucoma?

Currently marijuana has the status of a Schedule 1 drug which means it is considered to be potentially addictive with no current medical use. It has been proposed that marijuana be changed to a Schedule 2 drug which means it would be considered potentially addictive with some accepted medical use. In 1986, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) held extensive hearings about the proposed change. The DEA's own administrative-law judge concluded "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". The DEA however overruled the judge's order to transfer marijuana to Schedule 2, and in 1992 issued a final rejection of all requests for reclassification.

The 1999 Institute of Medicine's Report, Marijuana as Medicine: Assessing the Science Base was commissioned in 1997 at the request of the drug czar. We encourage everyone to read the study or at very least the executive summary. Its conclusions, after assessing all known US research, were essentially similar to other major studies conducted in various countries in the past.

The DEA website appears to be misleading and biased, containing half-truths and duplicity, without mention about alternatives to smoked marijuana--edibles, tincture, and vaporization for instance. You may also read our rebuttal to the questions about marijuana posed by the DEA on their web page with their "factual" responses.

Considering Dr. Tashkin's recent study finding Marijuana Smoking Does Not Cause Lung Cancer (funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and released over six months ago), vaporizing techniques and edibles as alternatives to smoking marijuana, and the availability of FDA approved Marinol (synthetic THC in a pill), it becomes appearant that the DEA's conclusions are politically motivated and scientifically unsupportable.

To place a law enforcement agency in charge of public health decisions is a direct threat to the public health of the nation and in particular those that require the option of using cannabis therapeutically under medical supervision and abiding by state law. The DEA agenda, and the lack of forthright communication in their web pages, and failure to comply with the standards of the Data Quality Act, makes them an unreliable source of information concerning medical marijuana.

Marijuana as medicine: Consider the pros and cons
This is more along the lines of what the DEA should present on their website:

Whether marijuana will relieve your side effects or symptoms is questionable. Examine the facts about marijuana before making your decision.

People have used marijuana as a medical treatment for thousands of years. Such uses extend even to modern America. Marijuana was listed by the U.S. Pharmacopeia, the organization that sets quality standards for approved drugs in the United States, until the 1940s, when political pressure against marijuana's recreational use triggered its removal.

Despite the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that state laws allowing medicinal use of marijuana must bow to federal law banning it, proponents still tout this controversial plant's ability to treat pain, nausea and other uncomfortable side effects of medical treatment as well as some disease symptoms.

The plant and its components

Marijuana refers to the dried flowers, leaves, stems and seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. These parts contain the compounds that produce the mind-altering effect that recreational users seek when smoking or ingesting the plant - but they also provide components with potential medical benefits.

Marijuana contains at least 60 chemicals called cannabinoids. Researchers are evaluating how effective some of these cannabinoids might be in controlling symptoms of certain medical conditions. For example:

  • THC. An abbreviation for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, THC is the main component responsible for marijuana's mind-altering effect. It also may help treat signs and symptoms such as nausea and vomiting that are associated with a number of medical conditions.

  • Cannabinol and cannabidiol. These compounds have some of the properties of THC, but cause less psychoactive effects - the high.

  • Dronabinol (Marinol). Dronabinol (dro-NAB-in-ol) is a man-made version of THC available by prescription. It's used to prevent nausea and vomiting after cancer chemotherapy when other medicines for these side effects don't work, and to increase appetite in people with AIDS.

How it works

When smoked or ingested, THC and other cannabinoids in marijuana attach to two types of receptors on cells in your body - like keys in a lock - affecting the cells, once attached.

CB1 is one such receptor. CB1 receptors are found mainly in your brain, especially in areas that control body movement, memory and vomiting. This helps explain why marijuana use affects balance and coordination and impairs short-term memory and learning, and why it can be useful in treating nausea, pain and loss of appetite.

The other type of receptor, CB2, is found in small numbers elsewhere in your body, mainly in tissue of the immune system, such as your spleen and lymph nodes. The function of these receptors is not well understood. They may serve as brakes on immune system function, which may help explain why marijuana suppresses your immune system.

After you smoke marijuana, its ingredients reach their peak levels in your body within minutes, and effects can last up to an hour and a half. When eaten - the plant is sometimes mixed with food - the ingredients can take several hours to reach their peak levels in your body, and their effects may last for hours.

The prescription drug dronabinol (marinol) which is taken as an oral capsule, takes effect in about 30 minutes and can continue to stimulate appetite for more than a day.

The availability of THC in capsule form does not fully satisfy the need to evaluate the potential medical utility of marijuana. The Expert Group noted that, although delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, dronabinol, Marinol, or 9-THC) is the principal psychoactive component of the Cannabis leaf, there may be other compounds in the leaf that have useful therapeutic properties.

Medical uses

Scientists studying marijuana's potential medical uses have found that it helps treat a variety of conditions:

One of THC's medical uses best supported by research is the treatment of nausea. It can improve mild to moderate nausea caused by cancer chemotherapy and help reduce nausea and weight loss in people with AIDS.

Younger people may find marijuana more useful as a treatment for nausea than do older people - who may not tolerate its mind-altering side effects as well. The prescription form, dronabinol, also may produce psychological side effects that make it inappropriate for some older people. Doctors generally prescribe several kinds of newer anti-nausea drugs with fewer side effects before resorting to dronabinol.

This disease - the third-leading cause of blindness in the United States - is marked by increased pressure in the eyeball, which can lead to vision loss.

In the early 1970s, scientists discovered that smoking marijuana reduced pressure in the eyes. Exactly how the cannabinoids in marijuana produce this effect isn't known. Scientists have discovered CB1 receptors in the eyes, which may provide clues for future research on how marijuana affects glaucoma.

Your doctor can prescribe other medications to treat glaucoma, but these can lose their effectiveness over time. Researchers are working to develop medications containing cannabinoids that can be put directly on the eyes - to avoid the mind-altering side effects and other health consequences of smoking the plant.

People widely used marijuana for pain relief in the 1800s, and several studies have found that cannabinoids have analgesic effects. In fact, THC may work as well in treating cancer pain as codeine, a mild pain reliever. Cannabinoids also appear to enhance the effects of opiate pain medications to provide pain relief at lower dosages.

Researchers currently are developing new medications based on cannabis to treat pain.

Multiple sclerosis
Research results on the effectiveness of cannabinoids in the treatment of the tremors, muscle spasms and pain of multiple sclerosis (MS) - a disease of the nervous system that can cause muscle pain - are mixed. A 2003 study found that cannabinoids significantly reduced pain in people with multiple sclerosis.

Some scientists feel that more research may show cannabinoids useful in treating MS. Marijuana may protect nerves from the kind of damage that occurs during the disease. They also suggest that animal study results, knowledge of CB1 receptors in the brain and users' reports of decreased symptoms after using marijuana support this possibility. However, others advise caution in using marijuana to treat MS, given the modest therapeutic effects cannabinoids have demonstrated so far and the potential of long-term adverse side effects.

Side Effects

Though some doctors and patients suggest marijuana has a legitimate use, the United States government disagrees. Federal law recognizes marijuana as a Schedule I drug, which classifies it as one of "the most dangerous drugs that have no recognized medical use." If law-enforcement officers find you with the drug in your possession, the penalty can range from a small fine to a prison sentence.

Marijuana is one of the safest medicines: Although everybody reacts differently, it is impossible to consume enough to produce a toxic effect in the body. However, if you are unfamiliar with it, there are some effects which you should be aware of so that you can use it more effectively.

Marijuana usually has a soothing and comforting effect on the mind. Sometimes, however, people do experience feelings of anxiety. If this happens to you, there are several things you can do. Try to stay in environments where you feel naturally comfortable. If you feel anxious, sit or lay down, breathe deeply, and relax. If you have loved ones with you, hold each other for a while. If you have a pet, hold or stroke it. Eating will often quickly reduce the feeling of anxiety. Then, the next time you use it, try reducing your dosage. Because of our social training, you may have feelings of guilt. Know that you have a right to your medicine.

Hunger & Thirst
Many patients use marijuana to stimulate appetite. If you are not using marijuana for this purpose, drink water or juice. If you wish to eat, eat good nourishing food rather than sweets.

Redness in the Eyes
This will not hurt you. If you must go out in public and are concerned about others' reaction to the redness, wear sunglasses or use eye drops.

If marijuana makes you sleepy, take a nap if you can and wish to. As with all medicines that can produce drowsiness, don't drive or operate heavy machinery.

If you find that you can't sleep for a while after using marijuana, try reducing your dosage and avoid using it for about two hours or so before you want to sleep.

Short-term Memory Loss
Sometimes people find it difficult to carry on a complicated conversation, keep track of details, or perform complex tasks. If this happens to you, schedule your time so that you don't have to do these things when using your medicine.

Many people find that things which normally don't seem funny become quite amusing when they use marijuana. Most people enjoy this effect. If you must deal with situations where humor would be inappropriate in your judgement, schedule your time so that you don't have to deal with them when you are taking your medicine.

The History of Marijuana Prohibition

Very few Americans had even heard about marijuana when it was first federally prohibited in 1937. Today, between 95 and 100 million Americans admit to having tried it.

According to government-funded researchers, high school seniors consistently report that marijuana is easily available, despite decades of a nationwide drug war. With little variation, every year about 85% consider marijuana fairly easy or very easy to obtain. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that more U.S. high school students currently smoke marijuana, which is completely unregulated, than smoke cigarettes, which are sold by regulated businesses.

There have been over seven million marijuana arrests in the United States since 1993, including 755,186 arrests in 2003 an all-time record. One person is arrested for marijuana every 42 seconds. About 88% of all marijuana arrests are for possession not manufacture or distribution.

Every comprehensive, objective government commission that has examined the marijuana phenomenon throughout the past 100 years has recommended that adults should not be criminalized for using marijuana.

Cultivation of even one marijuana plant is a federal felony.

Lengthy mandatory minimum sentences apply to myriad offenses. For example, a person must serve a five-year mandatory minimum sentence if federally convicted of cultivating 100 marijuana plants including seedlings or bug-infested, sickly plants. This is longer than the average sentences for auto theft and manslaughter!

A one-year minimum prison sentence is mandated for distributing or manufacturing controlled substances within 1,000 feet of any school, university, or playground. Most areas in a city fall within these drug-free zones. An adult who lives three blocks from a university is subject to a one-year mandatory minimum sentence for selling an ounce of marijuana to another adult or even growing one marijuana plant in his or her basement.

More than 80,000 marijuana offenders are in prison or jail right now.

A recent study of prisons in four Midwestern states found that approximately one in ten male inmates reported that that they had been raped while in prison. 10 Rates of rape and sexual assault against women prisoners, who are most likely to be abused by male staff members, have been reported to be as high as 27 percent in some institutions.

Civil forfeiture laws allow police to seize the money and property of suspected marijuana offenders charges need not even be filed. The claim is against the property, not the defendant. The owner must then prove that the property is innocent. Enforcement abuses stemming from forfeiture laws abound.

NORML estimates that the war on marijuana consumers costs taxpayers nearly $12 billion annually.

Many patients and their doctors find marijuana a useful medicine as part of the treatment for AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and other ailments. Yet the federal government allows only seven patients in the United States to use marijuana as a medicine, through a program now closed to new applicants. Federal laws treat all other patients currently using medical marijuana as criminals. Doctors are presently allowed to prescribe cocaine and morphine but not marijuana.

Organizations that have endorsed medical access to marijuana include: the AIDS Action Council, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Public Health Association, American Academy of HIV Medicine, American Nurses Association, Lymphoma Foundation of America, National Association of People With AIDS, the New England Journal of Medicine, the state medical associations of New York, California, Florida and Rhode Island, and many others.

A few of the many editorial boards that have endorsed medical access to marijuana include: Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, New York Times, Orange County Register, USA Today, Baltimore's Sun, and The Los Angeles Times.

Since 1996, a majority of voters in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington state have voted in favor of ballot initiatives to remove criminal penalties for seriously ill people who grow or possess medical marijuana.

Seventy-two percent of Americans believe that marijuana users should not be jailed. Eighty percent support legal access to medical marijuana for seriously ill adults.

Decriminalization involves the removal of criminal penalties for possession of marijuana for personal use. Small fines may be issued (somewhat similarly to traffic tickets), but there is typically no arrest, incarceration, or criminal record. Marijuana is presently decriminalized in 11 states California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon. In these states, cultivation and distribution remain criminal offenses.

Decriminalization saves a tremendous amount in enforcement costs. California saves $100 million per year.

A 2001 National Research Council study sponsored by the U.S. government found little apparent relationship between the severity of sanctions prescribed for drug use and widespread use or frequency of use, and ... perceived legal risk explains very little in the variance of individual drug use. The primary evidence cited came from comparisons between states that have and have not decriminalized marijuana.

In the Netherlands, where adult possession and purchase of small amounts of marijuana are allowed under a regulated system, the rate of marijuana use by teenagers is far lower than in the U.S. 3,18 Under a regulated system, licensed merchants have an incentive to check ID and avoid selling to minors. Such a system also separates marijuana from the trade in hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

Zero tolerance policies against drugged driving can result in DUI convictions of drivers who are not intoxicated at all. Trace amounts of THC metabolites detected by commonly used tests can linger in blood and urine for weeks after any psychoactive effects have worn off. This is equivalent to convicting someone of drunk driving weeks after he or she drank one beer.

The arbitrary criminalization of tens of millions of Americans who consume marijuana results in a large-scale lack of respect for the law and the entire criminal justice system.

Marijuana prohibition subjects users to added health hazards:

Adulterants, contaminants, and impurities Marijuana purchased through criminal markets is not subject to the same quality control standards as are legal consumer goods. Illicit marijuana may be adulterated with much more damaging substances; contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers; and or infected with molds, fungi, or bacteria.

Inhalation of hot smoke, One well-established hazard of marijuana consumption is the fact that smoke from burning plant material is bad for the respiratory system. Laws that prohibit the sale or possession of paraphernalia make it difficult to obtain and use devices such as vaporizers, which can reduce these risks.

Because vigorous enforcement of the marijuana laws forces the toughest, most dangerous criminals to take over marijuana trafficking, prohibition links marijuana sales to violence, predatory crime, and terrorism.

Prohibition invites corruption within the criminal justice system by giving officials easy, tempting opportunities to accept bribes, steal and sell marijuana, and plant evidence on innocent people.

Because marijuana is typically used in private, trampling the Bill of Rights is a routine part of marijuana law enforcement e.g., use of drug dogs, urine tests, phone taps, government informants, curbside garbage searches, military helicopters, and infrared heat detectors.


1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2003, Table G.1.

2. Time/CNN poll of adults, Time, Nov. 4, 2002. Forty-seven percent said they had tried marijuana at least once.

3. Johnston, Lloyd D., O'Malley, Patrick M., Bachman, Jerald G., and Schulenberg, John. E., Monitoring the Future, National Results on Adolescent Drug Abuse: Overview of Key Findings, 2003, National Institute on Drug Abuse, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2004.

4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance -- United States, 2003, May 21, 2004, MMWR 2004:3(No. SS-2), tables 20 and 28.

5. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports, Crime in the United States, annually.

6. For example, Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission, 1894; The Panama Canal Zone Military Investigations, 1925; The Marihuana Problem in the City of New York (LaGuardia Committee Report), 1944; Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding (Nixon-Shafer Report), 1972; An Analysis of Marijuana Policy (National Academy of Sciences), 1982; Cannabis, Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy (Report of the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs), 2002, and others.

7. 21USC841(b)(1)(B); 1996 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Guidelines, U.S. Sentencing Commission, 1997; p. 24.

8. 21USC860(a); report from Congressional Research Service, June 22, 1995.

9. Estimated by MPP, based on Prisoners in 2001, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice; Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2001, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice; Profile of Jail Inmates, 1996, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice; Substance Abuse and Treatment, State and Federal Prisoners, 1997, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

10. Struckman-Johnson, Cindy, and Struckman-Johnson, David, Sexual Coercion Rates in Seven Midwestern Prisons for Men, The Prison Journal, December 2000, pp. 379-90.

11. Struckman-Johnson, Cindy, and Struckman-Johnson, David, Summary of Sexual Coercion Data, for the conference Not Part of the Penalty: Ending Prisoner Rape, Oct. 19, 2001.

12. U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), Forfeiting Our Property Rights: Is Your Property Safe From Seizure? Cato Institute, 1995.

13. In 2002, the federal government spent $18.8 billion on the drug war. Approximately 53% ($9.964 billion) was spent on enforcement, court, and prison expenses, with the rest used for treatment and education (National Drug Control Strategy, Office of National Drug Control Policy, 2002). In 1991 the most recent year for which data are available state and local governments spent a total of nearly $16 billion, of which about 80% was used for enforcement, court, and prison costs (National Drug Control Strategy, Office of National Drug Control Policy, 1994). State and local spending is estimated to have increased to $20 billion annually in 2002 (Drug War Retreat? The Pentagon's Double-Edged Plan to Scale Back, Daytona Beach News-Journal, Nov. 9, 2002).

Hence, the total annual criminal justice system expenditure for federal, state, and local governments is $25.964 billion ($9.964 billion + $16 billion [$20 billion x 80%]).

While this total annual expenditure is not broken down by specific drugs, marijuana crimes account for 45% of all drug arrests (Federal Bureau of Investigation, Crime in the United States, 2003). Assuming that expense and arrest percentages roughly match, the war on marijuana consumers costs taxpayers $11.68 billion annually.

14. Grinspoon, Lester, M.D., and Bakalar B., J.D., Marijuana as Medicine: A Plea for Reconsideration, Journal of the American Medical Association, June 21, 1995.

15. Marijuana Policy Project, Medical Marijuana Briefing Paper, 2004.

16. Aldrich, Michael, Ph.D., and Mikuriya, Tod, M.D., Savings in California Marijuana Law Enforcement Costs Attributable to the Moscone Act of 1976 A Summary, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Vol. 20(1), Jan.-March 1988; pp. 75-81.

17. National Research Council, Informing America's Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don't Know Keeps Hurting Us, National Academy Press, 2001; pp. 192-93.

18. Abraham, Manja D., Kaal, Hendrien L., and Cohen, Peter D.A., Licit and illicit drug use in the Netherlands 2001. Amsterdam: CEDRO/Mets en Schilt, 2002.

19. Swann, P., The Real Risk of Being Killed When Driving Whilst Impaired by Cannabis, Australian Studies of Cannabis and Accident Risk, 2000. 20. Mirken, Bruce, Vaporizers for Medical Marijuana, AIDS Treatment News, Issue #327, September 17, 1999.

FDA and Pharmaceuticals

The purpose of the PWT Pharmaceutical Information section is to help bring light and information to those that are not aware about the hidden dangers and possible hidden agenda of the Pharmaceutical Industry that kills and lies to the people of the world.

With Tysabri decision, the FDA declares no drug is too dangerous to be FDA approved
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency that claims to be responsible for protecting consumers from dangerous food and drug products, has just surrendered its primary responsibility.

Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Preventable Drug-induced Injury
All of the problems of dangerous misprescribing of drugs for people living in the community are even worse in many nursing homes. For example, one study found that almost 40% of nursing home residents were being given antipsychotic drugs even though only a small fraction of them actually were psychotic.

Drug-Induced Diseases
Each year, more than 9.6 million adverse drug reactions occur in older Americans. The referenced study found that 37% of these adverse reactions were not reported to the doctor, presumably because patients did not realize the reactions were due to the drug.

Misprescribing and Overprescribing of Drugs
The numbers are staggering: in 2003, an estimated 3.4 billion prescriptions were filled in retail drugstores and by mail order in the United States. That averages out to 11.7 prescriptions filled for each of the 290 million people in this country.