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Posted by CN Staff on November 19, 2008 at 07:09:38 PT
By Michelle Lamont 
Source: Cavalier Daily 

medical USA -- Imagine you or someone you love is suffering from a chronic, painful illness. When the pain becomes intolerable, you head to your doctor, begging for something to ease your suffering and restore your quality of life, something to make you feel like your old self again. Your doctor offers you two options: a synthetic, potentially addictive narcotic, or a natural remedy derived from a plant. The choice seems pretty simple — until you realize that the first option is the popular painkiller Vicodin, and the second is the illegal drug marijuana.

Though the federal government has consistently opposed a law to make medical marijuana a legal option for patients suffering from specific conditions, this month Massachusetts and Michigan became the thirteenth and fourteenth states to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Research has consistently shown that cannabis is safe and effective in reducing pain and relieving nausea, even where more conventional remedies have consistently failed.

Yet marijuana is still currently classified under the federal government as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse and has no acceptable medical use — a definition fundamentally in conflict with state laws already in place that validate the medical benefits of marijuana. It’s time the government recognized what over a dozen states already know: The ongoing fight to keep marijuana illegal ignores proven medical benefits and is a waste of valuable time and resources.

Many studies have proven marijuana is an effective painkiller in cases where conventional medications have been ineffective or their ill effects have rendered their positive qualities useless. Recently, studies have suggested that cannabis is highly effective at reducing neuropathic pain, which is common in HIV/AIDS patients as well as those suffering from multiple sclerosis. Other medications, including highly addictive opiates, have proven useless against these types of suffering. Marijuana also helps ease nausea and vomiting, common complaints of those undergoing chemotherapy, without the unpleasant side effects of synthetic anti-nausea medication.

Relative to other painkillers available on the prescription market, like OxyContin and Vicodin, marijuana is a tame option for pain relief. Mankind has been safely ingesting marijuana, both for leisure and for healing, for thousands of years, dating back to ancient civilizations in Egypt and India. In fact, I could go down to Wal-Mart right now and pick half a dozen legal items off the shelf with more lethal potential than marijuana: cough syrup, aspirin or acetaminophen, to name just a handful. So why the hesitation to make marijuana a viable medical option for the thousands of patients who could potentially benefit from it?

For one thing, many worry that legalizing marijuana, even medicinally, is a step towards broader legalization of other, more dangerous drugs like cocaine or heroin, but the slippery slope argument is inherently flawed. The legality of alcohol and tobacco, mood-altering substances that alter brain chemistry, hasn’t led to the legalization of other, more psychoactive drugs.

Far more harmful drugs like heroin, a highly addictive opiate, share almost nothing in common with marijuana, a mild sedative; the only reason we even think to lump the two together is because both are currently illegal. Clear and explicit legislation would remedy any concern that the law could be misinterpreted to include other drugs. The government has already legalized dozens of other medications with a high potential for illegal abuse — like morphine, Vicodin and Percocet — that are associated with far more serious effects than marijuana.

In fact, marijuana itself is less dangerous than its two very common and very legal alternatives: alcohol and tobacco. It isn’t associated with cancer, like cigarettes are, and there’s no risk of a fatal overdose, though hundreds of people die each year from alcohol poisoning.

The misconception of marijuana as a dangerous, addictive drug began decades ago with propaganda predicting a “reefer madness” that never materialized. While marijuana is by no means a perfect panacea, it offers hope to many who have found no relief in conventional treatment, and any potentially negative effects associated with its use are well within the range tolerated for other drugs. Modern science has proven that adults can safely use marijuana in moderation with no ill effects to themselves or to society.

If I can walk into my local drugstore and medicate myself with dangerous, potentially deadly medications with overdose potential like aspirin and cough syrup, I should be able to get a prescription for the safe, effective pain relief of marijuana. I applaud Michigan and Massachusetts and the 12 other states where medical marijuana is legal for recognizing the value of this largely untapped natural resource as an alterative to harsh synthetic drugs, and I hope that the federal government will follow in their footsteps.

Note: The health benefits of marijuana outweigh concerns over misuse.

Michelle Lamont’s column appears Tuesdays in The Cavalier Daily.

Source: Cavalier Daily (U of VA Edu)
Author: Michelle Lamont
Published: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Copyright: 2008 The Cavalier Daily, Inc.
Contact: opinion@cavalierdaily.com
Website: http://www.cavalierdaily.com/

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Comment #5 posted by afterburner on November 20, 2008 at 08:05:20 PT
Uh, No
"Though the federal government has consistently opposed a law to make medical marijuana a legal option for patients suffering from specific conditions, this month Massachusetts and Michigan became the thirteenth and fourteenth states to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes."

Massachusetts decriminalized, Massachusetts did not approve medical marijuana.

Depending on how you count it, Michigan became the thirteenth or fourteenth state to legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Let's keep the facts straight.

It took only 13 states to forge a nation. Amen.

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #4 posted by FoM on November 20, 2008 at 05:41:56 PT
OverwhelmSam
I hope people who care about who the new drug czar might be will comment on the article. I will read the comments that way too.

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #3 posted by OverwhelmSam on November 20, 2008 at 04:37:10 PT
Meet Your New (Potential) Drug Czar
Recovering alcoholic Republican Jim Ramstad, a rabid drug warrior.

http://www.startribune.com/politics/state/34713659.html?elr=KArks8c7PaP3E77K_3c::D3aDhUec7PaP3E77K_0c::D3aDhUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUU



[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #2 posted by The GCW on November 19, 2008 at 16:36:35 PT
Bad people
Bad people support caging a sick human for using a relatively safe God-given plant.

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #1 posted by FoM on November 19, 2008 at 12:23:23 PT
Ohio: Medical Marijuana Hasn't Caused Problems
By Donna Willis

November 19, 2008

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Medical marijuana proponents were Downtown Wednesday to support a proposed law, NBC 4 reported.

The supporters gathered at the Statehouse to show they back the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The law would allow patients to legally grow small amounts of the drug for personal use.

Proponents said the law has not caused problems in the other states where it has passed.

"If don't use it, fine. This is not a problem. No one is advocating that you use it. That's between you and your doctor. But for those who that their doctor feels it may help them, they ought to have the right to use it," Jayson Jones with the Ohio Patient Action Network.

NBC 4's Lauren Diedrich will offer a more in-depth report tonight on NBC 4 and nbc4i.com.

Stay tuned to NBC 4 and refresh nbc4i.com for more information on this developing story.

Copyright: 2008 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC.

http://www.nbc4i.com/midwest/cmh/news.apx.-content-articles-CMH-2008-11-19-0019.html

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