In 2009 the FDA began regulating the cigarette and tobacco industry after the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed into law to ensure that health warnings were properly labeled and that sales to minors were restricted. In an interview with Bloomberg recently, the FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb suggested that it is unlikely the FDA would ever approve of the smoking of marijuana.
“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 in an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York. “I never told a patient to go home, crush up a pill, roll it in a piece of paper and smoke it.”
“Using a lung as a drug delivery vehicle isn’t optimal,” Gottlieb said.
“That’s not to say that we wouldn’t evaluate it if it came in; it just wouldn’t be an optimal way to deliver an active ingredient,” Gottlieb said.
His comments are a bit of a head scratcher since the FDA does not have a mission to recommend that anyone consume anything. The FDA does approve studies and even approved a study recently that involves subjects smoking marijuana. The FDA’s mission is to protect the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices. In other words, if marijuana became legal nationally it would likely fall to the FDA to regulate the industry and if it was legal to smoke marijuana then they would regulate that as well just like they regulate the tobacco industry.
Dr. Gottlieb may be allowing his personal opinion of cannabis to filter into his conversations as an official of the FDA. Perhaps using a lung is not the most optimal drug vehicle, but if it becomes legal then would the FDA not be responsible for regulating it anyways?