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Is Smoked Marijuana Medicine?


In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb shot down the idea that marijuana in smokeable form would ever become an FDA-approved medical substance.

“I prescribed blood pressure pills and all kinds of other things to my patients when I was a practicing physician not too long ago,” Gottlieb said. “I never told a patient to go home, crush up a pill, roll it in a piece of paper and smoke it.”

This seems like a rather flippant and ignorant remark by a man running the FDA. While pills are made specifically for oral ingestion, marijuana flowers grow to become quite compatible with being consumed by inhalation.

“Using a lung as a drug delivery vehicle isn’t optimal,” Gottlieb said. It may not be “optimal” in certain circumstances, but the National Center for Biotechnology Information certainly thinks it should be considered. “Targeting drug delivery into the lungs has become one of the most important aspects of systemic or local drug delivery systems. Consequently, in the last few years, techniques and new drug delivery devices intended to deliver drugs into the lungs have been widely developed. Currently, the main drug targeting regimens include direct application of a drug into the lungs, mostly by inhalation therapy using either pressurized metered dose inhalers (pMDI) or dry powder inhalers (DPI),” they said in a study abstract.

To be sure, there will times when vaporization or topical applications will be better suited to a specific ailment, but that is a decision best left up to the patient and their doctor.

There has been little research into the efficacy of smoked medical cannabis, but to take the easiest form of ingestion for many off the table at the start seems silly and unnecessary.

Anecdotally, I will say that I have many years of personal experience with smoked marijuana as a medicine and I can honestly say that without it, I wouldn’t be here writing this story. It allows me to eat when nothing else will. Sure, I could vaporize or ingest an edible more than likely, but having other options doesn’t discount the efficacy of cannabis in smoked form.

It is a medicine because it works. I know it works, because it’s worked for me for almost 20 years. I know many others who it works for as well. Patients should have the option of which way they ingest their medicine, notwithstanding ridiculous statements by the head of the FDA.


  1. Think of all the ways one could ingest a drug of any sort. Lungs are an effective and fast acting delivery method. Swallowing pills can take an hour or better to take effect. People can still be active and healthy without experiencing a negative side effect from smoking marijuana.

    • In 1930 Senator Morris Sheppard (D-TX) boasted proudly: “There’s as much chance of repealing the 18th Amendment as there is for a hummingbird to fly to Mars with the Washington Monument tied to its tail.”