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Benefits of medicinal marijuana proven

Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012

Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 14:10

The Arkansas Supreme Court defended the wishes more than 120,000 voters, and countless patients’ rights when it upheld Issue No. 5 on the ballot, a measure that would allow patients in Arkansas equal access to medical treatments that are already available to patients in 15 other states.

The initiative was under fire from the Coalition to Preserve Arkansas Values.  
The coalition apparently considers arresting seriously ill patients for using a treatment their doctors recommend to them is an ‘Arkansan’ value in need of preservation.

Unfortunately for the group, the democratic process prevailed, and Arkansas may indeed be the first Southern state to take a progressive stance on patient autonomy.

There is abundant scientific evidence that marijuana is a safe, effective medicine for some people.

In 1999, the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine (IOM) reported, “Nausea, appetite loss, pain, and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting, and all can be mitigated by marijuana.”

Since then, extensive new research has confirmed marijuana’s medical benefits.

Three University of California studies published since February 2007 found marijuana relieves neuropathic pain (pain caused by damage to nerves), a type of pain that commonly afflicts patients with multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, diabetes and other conditions, and did so with only minor side effects.

An observational study reported in the European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology found that hepatitis C patients using marijuana had three times the cure rate of those not using marijuana, apparently because marijuana successfully relieved the noxious side effects of anti-hepatitis C drugs, allowing patients to successfully complete treatment.

So why do some people oppose the initiative?
Well, after reading the objections brought forth in the Herald and other publications, I’m still not quite sure.

Every argument brought against Marijuana as a medication seems to be a non-unique quasi critique of using medicine in any context.

Many drugs that doctors prescribe can be abused, stolen, or can fall into the hands of children. Many drugs have serious side effects, much more serious than those from cannabis smoke.

So we should just make all medicine illegal?
These arguments are infinitely regressive, which is why they should be rejected.

And even with post passage of the initiative, the federal government prohibits doctors from “prescribing” marijuana for any reason.

However, there needs to be some way for state criminal justice systems to determine which marijuana users have a legitimate medical need.

So state medical marijuana laws require doctors’ recommendations.

Doctors recommend many things: exercise, rest, chicken soup, vitamins and cranberry juice just for bladder infections.

The right of physicians to recommend marijuana when appropriate for a patient’s condition has been upheld by the federal courts.

This double talk on cannabis puts pressure on dispensaries that are operating completely in accordance with state law.

It’s time for the opponents of equal access to safe medicine to come up with some new talking points, and it’s time to start holding the opinion of physicians and patients in higher regard than the misguided opinion of a small group of moral absolutists.


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