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SIOUX CITY, IA 51101-1244
|United States Senate|
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CHARLES E. GRASSLEY
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8 SOUTH 6TH STREET
COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA 51501-4204
Mr. Jack D. Johnson
Post Office Box 4091
Des Moines, Iowa 50333
Dear Mr. Johnson:
Thank you for your recent letter concerning medical marijuana and S 40. Although we disagree, I appreciate hearing your views.
In promoting appropriate Federal controls over dangerous drugs or in seeking to uphold existing laws, duly passed by Congress and upheld by the courts, I am keeping my oath of office. Were I not to act to protect the public from those who practice bad medicine, I would be violating the public's trust. In understanding this point, let me share with you the background on federal legislation that governs the approval of medicine for public sale.
The Pure Food and Drugs Act and other legislation that created the Federal Drug Administration and the guidelines for approving medicine for use came into being as a result of public insistence early in this century for action to protect the public from snake oil salesmen and quacks who routinely marketed all-purpose nostrums by mail or over the counter. The claims these spokesmen made on behalf of their products invariably assured miracle cures for every imaginable condition and they could boast endless anecdotal evidence and sincere testimonials from "satisfied customers" to support their extravagant claims. In the end, that is just what they marketed--claims not cures. And the so-called medicine that they purveyed to the public was often concocted of dangerous ingredients over which no controls were exercised. Unscrupulous advocates of a favored "treatment" perpetrated a fraud on the public in the name of medicine, causing many unneeded harms and fatalities.
Even more mainstream efforts to market miracle medicines without proper controls to the public produced catastrophic results, as demonstrated in the thalidomide episode in the 1950s, when this drug produced a wave of birth defects among women to took the drug unaware of its horrible side effects for pregnant women.
These experiences and others influenced decisions to establish more and better procedures for testing and approving medicine for public use. This involves establishing the scientific viability and purity of drugs and must go beyond simple anecdotes and testimonials. In addition, recognizing that many substances with medical utility also had a high potential for abuse, appropriate controls and guidelines were put into effect to require prescriptions and to control access to and the ability to dispense substances with scientifically demonstrated medical utility.
These controls were designed not only to make legitimate medicines purer and safer but also to guard the public against quacks and charlatans willing to prey upon people's vulnerabilities, sense of caring, and fears in order to market a host of fake medicines and false cures to turn a profit. To do this is well within the authorities of Congress. It is an approach strongly advocated by the general public and it is an exercise in responsibility.
I realize that you feel strongly about making marijuana available. There is, however, no scientifically validated evidence currently available that substantiates the many anecdotal claims made for the medicinal values of marijuana. Indeed, there is medical evidence to suggest that marijuana may actual aggravate some of the conditions it is supposed to treat, such as glaucoma or AIDS wasting syndrome.
Consider how we normally approve a medicine for use, especially one with a potential for abuse. We require specific and compelling scientific information that supports the claims made for the treatment. We require proper, peer-reviewed evidence not anecdotes and testimonials to validity efficacy. And when a substance is approved for public sale, it is subject to known and enforceable guidelines. This requires strict controls, standardized doses, medical supervision, and regulated prescriptions. We do not make such medicines available by popular referendum, deciding on the scientific value or medical utility of the treatment at the ballot box.
In closing, I want to relay to you my strong feelings about representative government. For democracy to function, there has to be two-way communication between Americans and their elected representatives. By sharing your views with me, Iowans play a vital role in this process. Hearing from you enables me to be a better U.S. Senator, and I very much appreciate the time you took to inform me of your concerns. Thanks again for keeping in touch.
Charles E. Grassley
United States Senator
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Schaffer Library of Drug Policy
Major Studies of Drug and Drug Policy
Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding - The Report of the US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse
Licit and Illicit Drugs
Short History of the Marijuana Laws
The Drug Hang-Up
Congressional Transcripts of the Hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937
Frequently Asked Questions About Drugs
Basic Facts About the Drug War
Charts and Graphs about Drugs
Information on Alcohol
Guide to Heroin - Frequently Asked Questions About Heroin
LSD, Mescaline, and Psychedelics
Drugs and Driving
Children and Drugs
Drug Abuse Treatment Resource List
American Society for Action on Pain
Let Us Pay Taxes
Marijuana Business News
Reefer Madness Collection
Medical Marijuana Throughout History
Drug Legalization Debate
Legal History of American Marijuana Prohibition
Marijuana, the First 12,000 Years
DEA Ruling on Medical Marijuana
Legal References on Drugs
GAO Documents on Drugs
Response to the Drug Enforcement Agency
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