This article appeared on March 14, 206 in the Des Moines Register. You can read it here:
Abandoning good science has unintended consequences for Iowa’s youth
Iowans may be deceived by the controversy surrounding claims of marijuana’s miracle cures. This is not about possible medicines for children. The deception is that Iowa must rush to market without heed to the overwhelming advice of medical professionals warning that we should not bypass the Food and Drug Administration and good science in developing medicines.
Cannabidiol is not marijuana, and the difference is huge. CBD is one out of more than 100 compounds that can be derived from marijuana, including the dangerous psychoactive drug tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The marijuana industry and its followers are abusing the privilege of empathy and the plight of innocent Iowa children in order to further the agenda of marijuana legalization, by confusing the difference between compounds derived from marijuana under strict FDA guidelines, and instead pushing counterculture claims of largely anecdotal reports of miraculous curative powers.
I love and care for children — all children. This is not about the false title of “medicine” being applied to marijuana, when in fact one compound out of hundreds in marijuana — cannabidiol — is in clinical trials at our own University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics to prove whether CBD can help our children.
People are easily lost in the confusion of what part of marijuana we are actually talking about. It is CBD, the one UI Hospitals and GW Pharmaceuticals are studying under the watchful eye of the FDA. With a positive result from the clinical trials, CBD — with the trade name Epidiolex — may be available through traditional doctors and pharmacies as early as 2017.
For some reason there is legislation pending in Iowa that does not agree with the idea of clinical trials, FDA supervision and support of the traditional medical and pharmaceutical community.
So we find ourselves in the midst of a controversy about marijuana.
Referred to as pot, cannabis, Mary Jane, bud, weed, reefer, tea, oil, stick, dope, grass, wacky tobacco, and herb to name a few, this is not the first time marijuana has tried to capture the imagination and hearts of Americans with anecdotal and widely unproven claims of either health benefits or a “safe” recreational high. We know better.
Marijuana is the primary drug of abuse by Iowa youth. More than 3,000 Iowa children attended treatment for behavioral issues related to marijuana use in 2014. This occurs because the confusion of counter-culture claims of marijuana use as safe blurs the most important value children apply to understanding consequences: the perception of risk.
The unintended consequence of increased marijuana use by children affects a negative outcome in many more children than the number of children benefited by any proposed medical use.
On behalf of the more than 60 Iowa children with intractable epilepsy and a need for CBD in the form of Epidiolex, Iowans have participated in the clinical trials. With FDA approval on the fast track, our health care system will respond to their need. The encouragement of Iowans has helped bring the clinical trials to UI Hospitals, paving the path to a safe, effective and legal medicine.
The big money in the marijuana business is not in CBD, but rather in the psychoactive THC, where impaired brain function, short-term memory loss, visual impairment and addiction are very dangerous side effects.
So Iowans, I beg you to be careful and aware that current discussion about legislation concerning cannabis can open a Pandora’s box of risk at the expense of the health and welfare of young Iowans — the very young Iowans we should be protecting.
I trust the FDA, our hospitals and doctors, our pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies based on science, medicine, compassion and care. I do not think we should abandon good science. I do not think we should risk the lives of Iowa’s children on something called marijuana, or any other name that it may use as an alias.
Therefore it is important that medical decisions are left to doctors, and medicine is developed safely under the supervision of the FDA. These are the trusted partners we should look to in times of need.