Medical Marijuana Opponents Need To Use Logic And Have Compassion
I was recently contacted by the people that do a political show at Jackson State University. Apparently, they are having a one hour discussion tomorrow about Mississippi SB 2252 which would bring medical marijuana to Mississippi. I'm still waiting to confirm whether or not I'll actually be participating on the 'pro' side of the discussion, but I figured I would write up something while I wait for the call back. I researched the top arguments that opponents use against medical marijuana in anticipation of what I might hear tomorrow, and came up with the some counterarguments to show just how illogical medical marijuana opponents are.
Kids will increase consumption after medical marijuana is approved
I think a recent article in Time Magazine summed up the truth on this issue quite nicely, “Despite warnings from opponents of medical marijuana, legalizing the drug for medical purposes does not encourage teens to smoke more pot, according to new research that compared rates of marijuana use in Massachusetts and Rhode Island after the latter state changed its laws.” Whereas medical marijuana opponents will use this scare tactic with no data to back it up, the link I provided has a study that clearly blows this argument out of the water.
'Drugged driving' will become more prevalent after medical marijuana is approved
I again refer to the people at Time magazine who said the following, “Comparing traffic deaths over time in states with and without medical marijuana law changes, the researchers found that fatal car wrecks dropped by 9% in states that legalized medical use – which was largely attributable to a decline in drunk driving. The researchers controlled for other factors like changes in driving laws and the number of miles driven that could affect the results.” As with the last argument, the link I provided in this paragraph clearly shows that worries about drugged driving are exaggerated.
Marijuana is a gateway drug
The gateway argument is not valid in the medical marijuana conversation. First of all, if a kid decides to use marijuana, statistically speaking they are more likely to have used alcohol, tobacco, a prescription for someone else, or misused a household product before they used marijuana, so the entire gateway drug argument is warrant-less to begin with in this discussion. However, stretching reality and assuming marijuana is the first substance that a person tries, chances are they didn't get it from a medical marijuana patient. They more than likely purchased it on the black market, which is possible regardless of if a state has a medical marijuana program or not.
More research is needed
The favorite move by medical marijuana opponents is to put their head in the sand and pretend that marijuana has no medicinal value, or that more research is needed. This is a classic delay tactic, because they know that the government sponsored research will be slow and isolated, such as at Old Miss. However, there is OVERWHELMING scientific evidence of the medicinal properties of marijuana — way more than there is on many other synthetic pharmaceutical drugs that are legal and wreaking havoc on society. Click this link for one of hundreds, if not thousands, of studies on the medicinal properties of marijuana.
Smoking marijuana causes lung cancer
Here's what our friends at WebMD had to say, "Even very heavy, long-term marijuana users who had smoked more than 22,000 joints over a lifetime seemed to have no greater risk than infrequent marijuana users or non-users." Also, there are numerous ways to consume marijuana without smoking it such as tinctures, edibles, vaporizers, as well as topical solutions such as gels and lotions. I have been up and down the West Coast, and there is one thing that is for sure — there are more medical marijuana users that consume marijuana without smoking it than there are that consume medical marijuana the old fashioned way.
The federal government doesn't recognize state's medical marijuana laws
State level politicians will always cling to the fact that the federal government does not recognize medical marijuana. For starters, I always point out to these politicians that they were elected to serve at the state level. Now I know that all of these politicians have visions of making it to Washington D.C. someday, but the fact remains that they were elected to do their job, which is at the state level. When they win a federal election, then they can worry about what the feds do. But for now, how about they just do their jobs?
Also, it always seems to be 'conservatives' that cling to this argument. Last time I checked, true conservatives believed in things like state sovereignty, state's rights, and individual liberty. I guess those beliefs only apply to things that fit the political loyalties and financial interests that politicians truly believe in. The one fact that these opponents should be concerned with is that the federal government has never prosecuted a state employee for administering a medical marijuana program, and no medical marijuana patient who was not involved in large scale cultivation or distribution was prosecuted either. If a state employee issues a medical marijuana card to a patient, and that patient consumes marijuana in a safe, legal, controlled environment, history shows that the feds will never get involved.
Patients can just use Marinol
From the great Paul Armentano from NORML, "Oral synthetic THC, legally available by prescription as Marinol, often provides only limited relief to a select group of patients, particularly when compared to natural cannabis and its cannabinoids. Patients often experience minimal relief from Marinol and many experience unwanted side effects. In addition, many physicians are hesitant to prescribe the drug, and some patients are unable to afford it. Despite Marinol's legality, many patient populations continue to risk arrest and criminal prosecution to use natural cannabis medically, and most report experiencing greater therapeutic relief from it.
The active ingredient in Marinol is a synthetic analogue of only one of the compounds in cannabis that is therapeutically beneficial to patients. By prohibiting the possession and use of natural cannabis and its cannabinoids, patients are unnecessarily burdened to use a synthetic substitute that lacks much of the therapeutic efficacy of natural cannabis and its cannabinoids.
Marinol should remain a legal option for patients and physicians and the development of additional cannabis-based pharmaceuticals should be encouraged. However, federal and state laws should be amended to allow for those patients who are unresponsive to synthetic THC, or simply desire an alternative to oral dronabinol, the ability to use natural cannabis and its cannabinoids as a legal medical therapy without fear of arrest and/or criminal prosecution."
Medical marijuana is hard to regulate
Regulating medical marijuana is only difficult due to the inadequacy of the state medical marijuana laws, and the constant interference by the federal government. Flaws in state laws, such as not giving the patients the right to grow their own medicine, has led to problems. Not allowing a distribution system has led to problems. Wasting tax dollars on unnecessary, hypocritical federal interference has led to problems. However, simply allowing patients to access medical marijuana or grow it themselves and consume it has never led to any problems whatsoever in the states that allow it.
*Why Mississippi politicians should support SB 2252*
The biggest argument in favor of medical marijuana in Mississippi is obvious — people are suffering. In some cases, not all, but some cases, medical marijuana is a safer and cheaper alternative for treatment for serious conditions. I'm not saying that we should do away with everything else. I'm merely saying that if there's a possible cure for cancer and/or other debilitating condition that can be unlocked by cannabis, or a serious condition can be helped by medical marijuana, why wouldn't Mississippi be pursuing this, other than for financial or political reasons?
Opponents want to argue this issue as if we were talking about recreational marijuana. We are talking about medical marijuana. We are talking about humans that are suffering. We are talking about if a doctor thinks cannabis will help, a patient should be allowed to use it in a well regulated scenario.
The science is clear. I'm providing quite a bit of data ahead of time to the producers of the station that clearly shows the medicinal properties of marijuana. I will also provide other data such as reduced suicide rates in states that passed medical marijuana laws.
There's no reason that Mississippi voters wouldn't support politicians that vote for SB 2252. Opponents want to keep this out of public view as much as possible because they know that once the truth is known by voters, the demand for SB 2252 will become too large, and the political fallout will be inevitable. Opponents want to make this about drug dealers and crime when really SB 2252 is about patients, doctors, and compassion.