Letters to the Editor

Column didn't tell full story on marijuana

Columnist Adam Sullivan stated “there are zero documented cases of fatal overdoses from medical marijuana, while deaths from common prescription pain killers in the United States total thousands each year” (“Again, lawmakers deliver last-minute cannabis bill,” April 30). The key word is documented.

There is a central database of which side effects — and, yes, deaths — are reported for prescription drugs of any kind, and that is the Food and Drug Administration. Manufacturers are required to report to FDA any side effects, including deaths, of which they become aware, without taking into account any cause and effect. As the data mount, assuming it does, the data will “assume” cause and effect. Large manufacturers have entire departments dedicated specifically to this task.

There is no central database for reporting side effects for marijuana, including deaths. There is no central mechanism to document, much less analyze, the effects of marijuana. The laws dealing with this are not appropriate, but that is a different subject, for a different day.

However, we cannot analyze what we do not know, and Sullivan’s conclusion as to safety is misleading. He may be correct, in terms of safety. However, our current system is not set up to arrive at any such conclusion, positive or negative, nor has Iowa — with the new law — put such a system in place, even on the state level, much less any kind of national or multi-state system.

Niles Ross

Cedar Rapids

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