(HuffPost) Being a physicist, not a physician, I don’t usually comment on issues in medical science. But I can no longer remain silent while people in my family and profession run the risk of federal arrest so that they can follow the recommendations of their doctors. Medical marijuana offers relief to people I care about, yet it remains illegal in the view of the United States government.
Aside from my personal stake in this issue, my professional experience has led me to ask the most obvious question a scientist could ask: Why hasn’t the long-running controversy over medical marijuana been resolved using science?
Two months after taking office, President Obama endorsed the principle of basing government policy on sound science. Compared to his predecessor, this was a much-needed breath of fresh air. In a speech celebrating the restoration of federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, our new president said the previous policy was misguided. “Rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values,” he explained.
To better guide federal policy, President Obama issued a memorandum to all executive departments and agencies that began,
Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration on a wide range of issues, including improvement of public health, protection of the environment, increased efficiency in the use of energy and other resources, mitigation of the threat of climate change, and protection of national security.