The federal government classifies marijuana as a "Schedule 1" narcotic--high potential for abuse; no currently accepted medical use; and dangerous--and for decades the government has asserted that there is sound scientific basis for this classification. It is not true. Medical research in countries that make it easier for such research to take place without fear of prosecution have shown that cannabis has enormous potential as a treatment for a wide range of debilitating conditions, including seizure disorders (families in this country are desperate for that research, but marijuana's legal status makes it nearly impossible).
But more and more members of the public health establishment are beginning to recognize what Mainers have already acknowledged at the polls: marijuana can be effective in treating a number of serious medical conditions, and government claims to the contrary are not based on science.
Today, Dr. Sanjay Gupta announced his change of heart on marijuana as medicine. While Andrew Sullivan has expressed surprise that "anyone who has access to the Internet could believe for one second that what the federal government says about marijuana is true," Dr. Gupta's article serves as an important reminder of the importance of continuing the conversation about drug policy reform in this country. We must not accept the status quo as definitive, nor should we forget that eloquent powerful allies are waiting to join the fight.