Article by Richard Cowan, former NORML National Director and author of Why Should You Consume CBD Along With Fatty Foods?
The COVID-19 pandemic has given everyone lessons on the methods of medical research and development. It can also teach us about the politics of medical research, including medical marijuana.
We are very fortunate that the science of virology had advanced so rapidly in the last few years, but things can never go as fast as we would like in desperate times.
Some of the same problems could also be seen in the search for effective treatments and demonstrated the real problems with “anecdotal evidence.” Former President Trump touted an anti malaria drug, and several people claimed that it cured them, so that supposedly proved that there was a great conspiracy to…. Whatever.
Of course, Covid-19 is a very weird disease. Some people are never symptomatic, and others get just a few symptoms, and then get well, with or without the drug. That is also an example of confusing correlation with causation.
It also works the other way. Over the decades the Drug Warriors denied that cannabis has any medical value that wasn’t available from FDA/DEA approved drugs. It did not matter if thousands of people used it and reported various benefits that they couldn’t get from prescriptions. That was simply “anecdotal.” It needed to be tested by FDA standards, the way the Covid-19 vaccines and possible treatments are tested.
Unfortunately, testing by FDA standards is very expensive. Because no one could own a patent on the plant, it was not economically feasible to test it. That is why GW Pharmaceuticals had to make Sativex ® and Epiodelex ® a little different to get patents.
My old friend, the late, great Dr. Lester Grinspoon actually devoted a part of his Marihuana the Forbidden Medicine to explaining how “anecdotal evidence” has played an important role in medical research. He also said, “The plural of “anecdote” is “evidence.” Of course, he knew its limitations, but it is simply dishonest to pretend that we can’t look at facts that aren’t on an FDA letterhead.
The reason that Grinspoon had to address this point was simply because the Prohibitionist have long used “anecdotal evidence” as a mantra, like “No medicine is smoked” to ignore the sick and dying people who insisted that marijuana helped them… Even smoking it!! Horrors!!!
Marijuana prohibition actually began with scientific fraud, but because it was really based on rather blatant racism, no one seemed to care.
As I like to say: Illogic is the logic of tyranny. So far, so bad.