Commentary: The Feds Are Behind on Medical Cannabis

Commentary: The Feds Are Behind on Medical Cannabis

By Ed Coghlan.

For the Trump Administration, there is the familiar refrain of “fake news” they use as an attempt at denigrating and even delegitimizing journalism that is critical of the administration.

“What,” you might ask, “does this have to do with medical marijuana?”

I was drawn to a story that broke late last week in Ohio where U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said “There really is no such thing as medical marijuana.”

He’s wrong about that. It’s factually incorrect.

It is – and heaven help me as I write it – fake news.

The vast majority of states have approved cannabis for medical use.

For Ellen Smith of Rhode Island and other advocates of medical cannabis who have been working hard to expand the use of medical cannabis for treatment of chronic pain, PTSD, and a number of other illnesses the comments of Secretary Azar are just wrong and pig-headed.

“Someone needs to wake up and get educated. I sure would love to be able to meet him in person and share all the changes we have observed in the improvement of lives turning to cannabis,” Smith said. “To be honest, he sounds really out of touch with a statement like that when you understand all the changes, through state laws, that have happened across the country.  Shame on him!”

It should be pointed out that Azar was President of the U.S. division of Eli Lilly and Company, a major pharmaceutical drug company, and was a member of the board of directors of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a pharmaceutical lobby.

No conflict there.

But I digress.

He went on to say in the Ohio interview, “There is no FDA-approved use of marijuana, a botanical plant. I just want to be very clear about that.”

He’s right about that.

And that’s the problem.

The states are just so far ahead of the federal government on this issue that you wonder what will happen next.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has gone as far as to ask Congress to turn down a funding rider that prohibits the Justice Department from taking action against states who allow medical marijuana.

A vote is expected later this month.

People would be stunned if Congress goes along with the Attorney General.

But Congress can and should do much more.

What is holding back research – and I mean real research on the efficacy of medical marijuana on chronic pain (among other diseases and conditions) is the fact the federal government won’t deregulate cannabis.

It keeps marijuana as a schedule one drug because the DEA says it has no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

For the probably millions of pain patients who use medical cannabis to address their pain, this is like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

But the truth is more study is needed in the U.S. (elsewhere, notably Canada and Israel, studies are available)

Here’s an idea.

Instead of fighting what the American people want, (voters are approving recreational use of marijuana) and acting like Luddites who fear the future, our federal officials who have been obstructionists can become partners and study this issue.

Sounds reasonable.

It’s why it won’t happen—at least any time soon.

Editor’s Note—I’m not normally drawn to commentary and prefer other people to opine. But listening to chronic pain patients around the world react to the lack of alternative treatments available to them and the anecdotal support many give medical cannabis – I thought I would share my opinion. Share yours on medical cannabis in our comment section. 

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Our government is walking contradiction…let’s say they are right there are no viable medical uses for marijuana..why did the FDA approve Marinol (synthetic THC) the drug companies spent billions developing a replica of THC…how can you say with a strait face there are no medical uses for marijuana..DEA speaks with forked-toung..

Samantha Adcock

While the federal government claims there is no medically beneficial use….. Believe it or not, the federal government sends free pre-rolled cannabis cigarettes to a special, but dwindling group of patients on a regular basis.

The program began in 1976.

Recipients of Legal Medical Cannabis, provided by the U.S. government under the Investigational New Drug Program (Compassionate Access I.N.D.)

There has been proven medical benefit since the early 1970’s.

That it has not been approved by the FDA is a failing on their part.

The last 4 remaining participants in this program participate in a Chronic Use Study to determine the long term effects from cannabis smoking. Other than mild bronchitis they showed no evidenceof harm from years of smoking cannabis.

With the alternative delivery methods available the risks should be even lower.

T. S.

This is not on topic for Medical Canabis. But I have some questions.

Jeff Sessions is an authoritarian who wants to remove all effective pain treatment – natural and prescribed.

There is a new “study” in the news today about opioid therapy being no better than over the counter pain therapies. The study used only generics for the prescriptions which haven’t worked as well as brand name for years.

I’m really scared and I’m not seeing any improvement.

Isn’t the National Pain Network doing anything effective for those who suffer with chronic severe migraine pain and severe occipital neuralgia? It’s not just about CRPS or Fibromyalgia.


Here is a little known fact: Patent No. 6630507, held by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, covers the use of cannabinoids for treating a wide range of diseases.

Under U.S. federal law, marijuana is defined as having no medical use. So it might come as a surprise to hear that the government owns one of the only patents on marijuana as a medicine.

The patent (US6630507) is titled “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants” and was awarded to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in October 2003.


I’m Canadian, but we have the same problem here. Anything that seems to be a good fit or an answer to prayer if your suffering with Chronic Pain &/or PTSD. While I suffer from both my body unfortunately seem to not be able to handle marijuana. I’ve not had access to the stuff u smoke or bake & one of my lungs is badly damaged & smoke of any kind has serious side effects so my pain specialist prescribed the tablet form of marijuana & I took a very bad reaction to it & it made me ill. But bringing up the tablet form, my province covers this medication. I’m surprised that more people don’t seem to know or talk about the tablet form! Is it not available in the States?
When it comes to the government & Pharaceutical companies, they r obviously in bed together & they make too much money from drugs to let what is best for us to matter!


Yet the Gov has approved a synthetic marijuana pill.


My pain dr. in Pa. says if med marijuana helps my pain they will take away my kadian. My breakthroughs make me feel horribly speedy and now they say I can’t have lorazepam and kadian at the same time even tho I used it for over 25 yrs. for panic attacks from PTSD. The gov. wants a 300. a year payment for med. marijuana not to mention how much the actual marijuana and products will cost. I am unable to work so this is probably too expensive.


Amen, Ed!!! Shout it from the rooftops until they have no choice but to listen!


Interesting points but the parallel you used for medical marijuana could be applied to opioid pain medication. The government wants to in all reality, ban both. I am not an avid supporter of medical marijuana because it’s often touted as the only thing for chronic pain. Like opioid pain medication it does not help everyone. Both need to be looked at and they both should be considered for pain management.

Unfortunately the administration is not looking at either one as viable treatments for a number of conditions.


If there’s no such thing as medical marijuana WHY does the US Government hold a patent on it?? The Dept. of Health & Human Services holds a patent on the medical uses of marijuana. It’s patent # US 006630507B1 dated Oct. 7, 2003 ( It’s 29 pages long.
Why does the Government own a patent on something they believe has no value or use???
The Federal Government has been providing marijuana to a handful of patients for years. One of these patients is Irvin Rosenfeld, another was Robert Randall. This marijuana has been & still is grown in a 5 acre plot since the late 60’s/early 70’s. This marijuana is grown at the US Gov. Cannabis Garden at the University of Mississippi & provides the cannabis for this Government Program.

It’s just wrong and pig-headed to take our opioids away from us also. All of the things that have helped “We the Pain Warriors” that have been proven, used and prescribed by our doctors. I don’t know much about medical marijuana only my own opioids that have been taken away at an alarming rate. Though I do know back in 2016 one of my Pharmacy staff told me to ask my doctor about prescribing medical marijuana, due to the fact my pain medicine had been reduced to 1/4 of what it was. Stated that not many folks knew about it but they kept it in a refrigerator. With my opioids I have found something that WILL work for me. If it works for someone, whatever it may be, then why fix it?
That’s just it people, WHY on this Earth are we having to suffer because our government has nothing else to do except pick on those who live their lives in CHRONIC PAIN??? Please, please tell me! Surely someone is reading this that is affiliated with the CDC, the FDA, the DTF, the government, excetera so on and so forth. Perhaps if they left the medical work to the medical professionals, and instead tried to figure out what would make our world a better place, our country wouldn’t be in the shape that it’s in. The land of the free and the home of the brave??????????Makes you wonder, doesn’t it. By the way, I’m still praying with faith!!!


I agree with you Ed about the government being far behind the times but we have to take it a step further if we are to get to the real reasons the government is lacking in support for legalized medical marijuana, you have to follow the money. It seems to me that money is behind most of the government decisions, I guarantee if we can find a way for the senators and congressman to profit from legalizing medical marijuana then things will change. I’m sorry for being so sinical, it’s from a lifetime of experience and being realistic.

sandy auriene sullivan

Anyone ever called to jury duty that involves MJ; the only way to say no to prohibition is to use nullification. They don’t tell you that when you are put on jury; no. In fact, they prefer a jury that’s clueless to the law.

But it was nullification as well as over half the states legalizing and regulating alcohol sales during prohibition that turned the Feds around too. We already have over half the states with legal medical cannabis; next the Feds at minimum need to move it to schedule 2 [if it must be on the schd at all] to allow research.

Cocaine and amphetamine salts are both sch 2; some medicinal value [allows research too]

Cannabis should never have been put on the schedule, let alone prevention of research.

There’s still a few people alive who get Federal pot shipped to them. You had to join the program in the late 70s early 80s and they ended it around 1990; but grandfathered in patients already receiving it. So the FEDS don’t even listen to the laws on the books. pfffffffft.

Nullify, nullify, nullify! Refuse to send someone to jail for possession and/or ‘trafficking’ as the latter is often added on if one owns a ziplock bags and stored in the kitchen even; not because of actual trafficking evidence. And, if you are faced with such charges; don’t be bullied into a plea. [don’t let your public defender talk you into it either! Unless you really are in DEEP; still they will make you very afraid so get another opinion if possible via family talking to a lawyer – it’s free to consult]

It is often easier to do 90 days of community service with a fine; but if you do not take it to court – we cannot nullify the law. Drug laws/wars don’t work.

Drew Pavil

Fake news is correct! Our government has lied to us for years and the effects are terrible. The Drug war has been a total failure and has only destroyed the lives of people caught up in the blatant money-making scheme of the government. America puts more people in prison than any other country in the world and that is mostly because of drugs. The government makes a fortune running the prison system in America. The largest federal law enforcement agency in the country is the federal Bureau of Prisons, which has 35000 staff and over 100 federal correctional facilities in the country. Locking people up is big business in the US, so the government has no interest in legalization of anything that would lessen their current cash flow. Thats the real crime.


The feds are full of pure junk!


Georgia hopefully will be one of the ones to pass PTSD and chronic pain this year. It has successfully gotten thru the house. Only PTSD was part of the first version but the governor asked them add chronic pain to the version that passed. I totally agree that it’s time for our federal government to get their heads out of the sand and move forward on helping not hindering this situation.


Jeff Sessions should resign, for a myriad of reasons.