Jeff Sessions is taking a stand on the side of science, not against it

Your editorial on Jeff Sessions turning back the clock on marijuana (“Don't let Sessions turn back the clock on medical marijuana," Oct. 13) is puzzling to me as a scientist, as I have long viewed the medical marijuana movement to be turning back the clock on FDA protections. For example, did you know that Maryland has the dubious distinction of being a state (the only state as far as I know) to allow nurse midwives to recommend marijuana to their patients? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have come out with a position paper against marijuana use in pregnancy based on available data, but no national association of nurse midwives has done so, thereby making it clear they must be unfamiliar with the relevant scientific publications. If Jeff Sessions thinks marijuana might be harmful for the developing fetus, he is taking a stand on the side of science, not against it. Both human epidemiological studies and laboratory studies of animals indicate marijuana use during key points of fetal development can have lasting consequences, some of which are not obvious at birth yet become apparent later. Marijuana may ease morning sickness, but at a cost.

This is but one of the many medical marijuana applications for which the risk/benefit analysis is poor, including for anyone with an underlying cardiac condition or anyone in remission from certain types of cancer. Breast cancer has been shown to be stimulated by marijuana in animal studies conducted by Dr. Robert McKallip of Virginia Commonwealth University, and several epidemiological publications have shown that marijuana use doubles the risk of testicular cancer. If you add these risks to well known negative mental health impacts, I rather suspect that when Jeff Sessions sends his prosecutors into court in regards to medical marijuana, they will be armed with scientific studies too numerous and complex to recite here. There may soon be clinical trial results showing a benefit of the purified cannabidiol component of marijuana for seizure control in children, but the FDA should be evaluating how best to achieve those benefits, not legislators.

Christine L. Miller, Baltimore

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