Mon, Aug

Sorry Feds: Wrong Again – Medical Marijuana Does Indeed Have Valid Medical Uses

GUEST WORDS - We live now in a Kafka-esque anomaly between state and federal law here in California. State law, since 1996, authorizes procedures for obtaining and dispensing medical marijuana ("MJ") for medical patients who find MJ beneficial for their various health conditions.

Federal law, by ironic contrast, as recently as last week again, not only criminalizes use of MJ for any purpose, but goes wildly further, stubbornly insisting on keeping MJ categorized as a DEA Schedule 1 drug. Schedule 1 is the final resting place for drugs deemed by the Feds to have no medical use whatsoever, listing, for example, Heroin and Crack, both of which really are dangerous drugs with no medical uses.

Oh, really??

NORML (the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws) provides on their website  an excellent overview of recent MJ medical research ("Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis & Cannabinoids - A Review of the Recent Scientific Literature, 2000 - 2011) on medical uses of MJ.

As the accompanying chart on the NORML website makes clear, there are indeed valid, proven, medical, therapeutic uses for MJ. This is in stark contrast to what the Feds would have us believe, the Feds announced (again, after the usual years of foot-dragging), at the end of last week (now for the third time in a row) that they have again stone-walled and rejected a challenge to the continued categorization of MJ together with truly dangerous drugs that have no medical uses whatsoever.

The overcrowding of our US prisons is (or, at least, should be) a matter of extreme humiliation for our society - it is a direct product of our failed War on Drugs, plain and simple. The U.S. has in excess of 2.3 million people currently incarcerated in prisons, while China, not exactly a model of the ‘free society' that we Americans aspire to have, has 4 times our population, but only 1.6 million in prisons.

We, here in the Land of the Free, now have 751 people incarcerated per 100,000 - the next closest on this list is Russia with 627 per 100k.; England is at 151, Germany at 88, and Japan, only at 63!

A December 2008 US Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics report shows the number of people incarcerated for drug offenses in state and federal prisons was over 600,000 - estimates for 2007 are that about 872,720 persons were arrested for marijuana offenses, up from 2006's (829,627 people arrested for marijuana) and 2005's 786,545 marijuana arrests - an increase by 86,000 arrests in just two years.

The announcement that the Feds will not budge, stubbornly keeping MJ on Schedule 1, along with truly dangerous drugs like heroin and crack, assures more of the same wasteful spending. We spend some $40k-$60k per year to house each incarcerated prisoner - this, in an era where budgets are all upside down and we are desperately slashing expenses as far as the eye can see.

Why, then, are the Feds moving in such a counter-productive direction, steadfastly clinging to their failed War on Drugs which has cost we the taxpayers hundreds upon hundreds of billions of dollars since Nixon (who, himself, deep-sixed research and reports back when he was President unequivocally concluding that MJ had potential medical benefits and should be legalized) - over 40 years ago now!?!

Don't take my word for it - do your own research - the internet is full of research and reports indicating that MJ has definite, proven and salutary medical uses for the treatment of: Gliomas, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), Chronic Pain, Tourette's Syndrome, HIV, Hypertension, Sleep Apnea, Insomnia, GI Disorders, Incontinence, Rheumatoid Arthritis "RA"), MRSA, Osteoporosis, Diabetes, Hepatitis C, Dystonia, Fibromyalgia, Alzheimer's, Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and suffering nausea, Neuropathy, and a whole host of other very serious illnesses.

Talk to a person who has RA, and for whom even buttoning a shirt or getting out of bed is an ordeal of pain and stiffness, who has used MJ for lessening the symptoms of this incredibly painful, debilitating, and joint-destroying illness for which there is no cure.

Talk to a person who has used MJ to minimize nausea from chemotherapy. Talk to a person who suffers the daily pain, discomfort and indignities of MS or ALS and who has used MJ to lessen their suffering.

For the Feds to continue to demonize MJ, stubbornly clinging to their record of abject failure and swimming against both the tsunami of medical evidence which has emerged even over the last 10 years, and the many anecdotal experiences of people suffering serious illnesses who have found blessed relief through the use of MJ, is outrageous, insulting, illogical, and a preposterous lesson to all that respect for governmental pronouncements must be earned.

The Fed's stubborn fiat keeping MJ on the schedule 1 list of drugs for which there is no known medical use, is also unbelievably cruel to many, many people whose medical conditions could be improved by its use.

A society should be judged by how it cares for its weakest members. The Fed's position, especially in this era of ‘no money' and tightening budgets, necessitating as it does, the continued arrest and incarceration of people ingesting the products of a weed, as people have done for thousands of years we can see from ancient tombs, is an utter abomination.

(David S. White is Principal of David S. White & Associates, a real estate and general business law firm, West Los Angeles. This column was posted first at foxandhoundsdaily.com -cw

Tags: medical marijuana, MJ, medical pot, pot, heroin, crack, DEA, NORML, prisons, China, War on Drugs, Department of Justice, cannabis, cancer,  chemotherapy

Vol 9 Issue 58
Pub: July 22, 2011