Reprinted from the San Francisco Express-Times
San Francisco—The American Medical Association’s report on the dangers of marijuana poses the issue in the lingo of narcotics police, not in scientific or humanitarian language, according to Dr. Joel Fort.
Moreover, the media made a bad report worse by paying so little attention to its constructive recommendations the lifting of criminal penalties against occasional users, and the loosening of federal controls restricting research on marijuana.
Dr. Fort, a recognized expert in the field, cannot get a license from the Bureau of Narcotics to conduct research on marijuana.
Fort said that the men who gave the report were not scientifically qualified.
Their expertise is bureaucratic, not scientific. Dr. Way and Dr. Farnsworth are both members of the AMA Committee on Drug Dependence, which sounds impressive to the general public. But neither of them has done any original research with marijuana. They have not worked with it in the laboratory, they have not studied its effects on users, they have not had any experiences with adverse effects.
The AMA report, Fort said, relied entirely on a study done this year by Dr. Isbell at the Addiction Research Center at Lexington, Kentucky. Former narcotic addicts experienced hallucinations and psychotic reactions after being given large doses of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (an artificially synthesized sub-component of the active principle of crude marijuana.)
Is marijuana a dangerous drug? All drugs are dangerous, Dr. Fort said, pointing out that an overdose of aspirin can be fatal. If you give large doses of alcohol, amphetamines or barbiturates to people with unstable or schizoid personalities, you can also produce hallucinations.
Dr. Way confirmed that neither he nor Dr. Farnsworth had ever conducted any research with marijuana. Their report, he said, was based mainly on the Isbell study, along with testimonial-type things (unsystematic reports).
Dr. Way, who teaches pharmacology at UC Medical Center, has recently gotten clearance from the Bureau of Narcotics to do research on marijuana. He will be experimenting on animals and on narcotics addicts.
Do you have any plans for conducting experiments on normal subjects? I asked. Dr. Way said such experiments are impossible because medical school screening committees do not feel the climate is right.
Have you or Dr. Farnsworth ever used marijuana yourselves? I asked. Dr. Way, taken aback refused to answer.