Elliott Cain wanted to know why it is legal to use medical marijuana to treat anxiety in California, but not in Washington state, where patients with other conditions such as cancer and HIV have had legal access to pot for more than a decade, says the Seattle Times. A Washington state panel that evaluates requests to add medical conditions to the list of those that can be treated with marijuana said there is no rigorous scientific evidence that marijuana is effective in treating anxiety.
The answer also has as much to do with politics as science. Despite more than a decade of experience with marijuana as medicine, Washington's relationship with cannabis and the community seeking to expand its use remains a troubled one. For years, patients have complained that ambiguities in the state's 1998 medical- marijuana law have made obtaining and possessing cannabis difficult, even scary. The state Medical Quality Assurance Commission has added only four medical conditions since 1999. The board's decisions are as political as they are scientific, a symptom of the lack of clinical studies involving pot. Even some of the people who serve on the medical-marijuana panel are exasperated with the process. “It should be done in a different manner,” said Dr. Catherine Hunter, a gynecologist who served on two panels that evaluated two medical-marijuana petitions despite what she said was her lack of expertise. “Medical decisions shouldn't be made in a political arena.”