Veterans for Cannabis Research: Open Letter to Kevin Sabet, SAM

P.O. Box 7213, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067

April 27, 2015

Mr. Kevin Sabet, President
Project SAM

Dear Mr. Sabet,

We are penning this open letter in response to your publicized statement where you state Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s Weed 3: A Marijuana Revolution, “Overstates Marijuana’s Medical Potential.”

You make the following claims in your response to Weed 3:

1) You exclaim, “Of course, we have to study marijuana to examine its medical potential. The goal, according to the Institute of Medicine, should be to develop non-smoked medications based on marijuana’s components for specific medical conditions. As the FDA’s Deputy Director told Sanjay Gupta, ‘We want marijuana studied to decide its safety, its efficacy, and its reliability, and we want that as quick as we can.’ SAM wholeheartedly agrees with that point of view.”

To clarify your position, SAM supports LIMITED research into certain specific components of marijuana only via non-smoking delivery systems. Per your own presentation “Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana” you state:

“Research must be done on marijuana’s components, not the raw, crude plant.”

Thus, your claim inferring you support the study of marijuana is misleading. Why do you support only limited research? Such a position seems, at best, antithetical to the core principals at the heart of why we conduct research.

The key contradiction in your statement is that you repeat the 1999 statement of the IOM supporting “non-smoked medications based on marijuana’s components” but then say SAM supports the view of FDA Deputy Director Dr. Douglas Throckmorton that marijuana should be studied. The IOM is not the FDA and the quote from Dr. Throckmorton was about marijuana, not non-smoked medications based on marijuana’s components.

You have prejudged the issue based on the 1999 IOM report. The IOM report reviewed research at a time when no privately funded research had been permitted and without the knowledge of NIDA-funded scientific research published after 1999 that failed to demonstrate a connection between smoking marijuana and lung cancer.

Therefore we must ask:

  • Are you open to letting the FDA evaluate this matter based on new data?
  • Will you support ending the DEA-protected NIDA monopoly on the production of marijuana for research to facilitate privately funded Phase 3 drug development research for the FDA to evaluate?
  • Will you support ending the redundant and obstructive Public Health Service (PHS) review of privately funded medical marijuana protocols, a review process that exists only for privately funded medical marijuana protocols and not for privately-funded research with any other Schedule I drug?

2) Weed 3 fails to “highlight the potential dangers of marijuana”

Weed 3 called attention to research studies into several potential uses of marijuana that will gather information about risks as well as benefits so the FDA can decide based on data, not on the basis of a 16 year old IOM report.

As patients we believe any discussion of Marijuana’s risk profile must not happen in a vacuum. One must compare its risks vs. the risks associated with the current mainstream pharmaceutical approach that can include a cocktail of opiates, benzos, stimulants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics.

So we agree that risks need to be discussed.

3) “SAM stands not with cable news conjecture, but rather with the American Medical Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, and other major medical groups in supporting research.”

We stand with the 22 Veterans killing themselves a day, the children suffering from seizures, the cancer survivors and those that didn’t, those afflicted with AIDS, MS and the millions of others who seek help for the myriad of diseases where they alone have endured a maze of options only to arrive at their best option, medical marijuana.

We choose to embrace the stories we hear and see every day. We can’t dismiss the stories we hear as you would have us believe are just a “few,” because we live them. Our families, our friends and we are on the front lines every day fighting, fighting for our lives and our rights, and standing up and saying no more. Standing up in places like the United States Congress, where Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R) so eloquently said, “Some people are suffering and if a doctor feels that he needs to prescribe something to alleviate that suffering it is immoral for this government to get in the way.” And that’s what’s happening.

We stand up and applaud CNN and Dr. Sanjay Gupta for telling our stories. We are not a few, Mr. Sabet; we are a movement of millions.

4) “In Colorado, for example, “medical” marijuana is marketed and dispensed like alcohol, not medicine—with no dosage, no proper medical oversight, etc.”

Those of us who have been to Colorado and purchased marijuana can assure you, this is not accurate.

Per Justice Louis Brandeis’s famous phrase, where he writes that States, “serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

We agree that Colorado’s experiment with the legal use of Cannabis is not without risk. However, continuing to pursue policies that out of touch with reality — prohibition — carries a tremendous economic and human cost that are not smart or “SMARTER” and the data demands we move in a new direction.

5) “SAM wants the best medicine for PTSD & other diseases”

A more accurate claim would be SAM wants the best medicine for PTSD & other diseases as long as it’s not the marijuana plant itself, smoked or vaporized.

That begs the question Mr. Sabet, what if Marijuana works as so many claim and you are wrong?

We suggest you look into the types of narcotics being handed out like candy by the Veterans Administration, look at the damage they have wreaked on our military families across this country. Do this before you start telling us about what is, or is not dangerous for our families.

When you compare the risk profiles of the above candy store to that plant called Marijuana, the conclusion is a no brainer. It truly is the safer alternative. Mr. Sabet, please join and support us in:

  • Letting the FDA evaluate this matter based on new data
  • Ending the DEA-protected NIDA monopoly on the production of marijuana to facilitate much needed privately funded drug development research for the FDA to evaluate
  • Treating Marijuana like all other drug research and end the redundant and obstructive Public Health Service (PHS) review of privately-funded medical marijuana protocols, a review process that exists only for privately-funded medical marijuana.

As President Obama said in Weed 3, the matter of the medical use of marijuana should be resolved by scientific data, not ideology.

Stand with us in stopping needless suffering. Support FDA & HHS approved research at a minimum.

Our warmest regards,

Sean Kiernan
Co-Founder, Veterans for Cannabis Research
Co-Founder, Vets for Dr. Sisley & PTSD Research
Army Veteran | Panama
San Diego, California
Ricardo Pereyda
Co-Founder, Veterans for Cannabis Research
Co-Founder, Vets for Dr. Sisley & PTSD Research
Army Veteran | Iraq
Tucson, Arizona
Ryan LeCompte
Marine Corps Veteran
Boulder, Colorado
Scott Murphy
Army Veteran | Iraq
Newton, Massachusetts
Ryan Begin
Marine Corps Veteran | Iraq
Monroe, Maine
T.J. Thompson
Navy Veteran
Chesapeake, Vir
David F. Lucier
Army Veteran | Vietnam
Phoenix, Arizona
Jack Stiegelman Jr
Army Veteran | Afghanistan
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Tony Shaw
Army Veteran | Vietnam
Prescott, Arizona
Tony Macie
Army Veteran | Iraq
Vernon, Vermont
Mark DiPasquale
Marine Corps Veteran | Iraq
Rochester, New York
Joey “Doc” Martinez
Navy Veteran | Iraq
San Diego, California
Jason Howard
Army Veteran | Iraq
Soldotna, Alaska
Dave Wizinewski
Army Veteran | Iraq
Phoenix, Arizona
Ian Benouis
Army Veteran
Austin, Texas
Miguel Tully
Army Veteran | Iraq
Denver, Colorado
Anthony Jones
Army Veteran | Iraq
Preston, Minnesota
Dakota Blue Serna
Marine Corps Veteran | Iraq
Lansing, Michigan
Logan Edwards
Marine Corps Veteran | Iraq
Davenport, Iowa
Brad Poole
Army Veteran
Tucson, Arizona