Outside voices: Marijuana research needs change
Los Angeles Times, Sept. 4: When the federal Department of Health and Human Services recently issued a request for proposals seeking competitive applications for the production, analysis and distribution of “marijuana cigarettes,” the request might have seemed a bit unusual to those unfamiliar with Washington’s dance around cannabis research. The federal government, after all, is not widely known to support marijuana cultivation.
But those in the know just shrugged. The department has issued similar requests every few years to select a contractor to conduct government-approved marijuana research, and with depressing regularity it has then awarded an exclusive contract to the University of Mississippi. For 40 years now, Washington has sought such “competitive applications,” and Mississippi “wins” every time.
This rigged contest has successfully thwarted meaningful academic inquiry into marijuana’s medicinal value, without which the debate over its efficacy is bound to endure. Other studies – not conducted by the University of Mississippi – have suggested that marijuana has therapeutic value. But because the United States has discouraged such research and made it legally difficult to undertake, these studies have been limited in scope.
Even if the university were running a perfect program, one institution cannot fulfill the country’s research needs.
The deadline for this latest round of applications is Oct. 9. The government should take the opportunity to break the University of Mississippi’s monopoly and choose a different institution. That step alone would be a sign that the Obama administration will prioritize science over politics.
Dallas Morning News, Sept. 1: After weeks of congressional town hall meetings, the inane furor over “death panels” being included in any health care reform bill seems to have subsided. As Congress wraps up its August recess, the message apparently has gotten out that there are no government panels being proposed to counsel seniors to hurry up and die.
But the panic that spread across the meetings reveals that many Americans still remain uncomfortable talking about death. This could be for numerous reasons, including the fact that we look to doctors as saviors these days. With so many technologies at their disposal, we think of them as being able to keep us alive forever.
Whatever the reasons for not talking about how we want to die, we hope the health care debate finally prompts families to do what government cannot do – and never should attempt to do. And that is talk about the kind of care their loved ones would like to receive as their days come to a close.