Medical marijuana is dominating the news again. Last week, Congress defeated a measure that would have prevented the U.S. government from blocking the use of medical marijuana in states that allow it. On the same day, Wednesday, July 26, 2007, federal agents raided 10 marijuana clinics in the Los Angeles area. Seems like this battle will continue to rage on.

On the one side, you’ve got medical marijuana activists, which are really Legalize Pot advocates, and on the other, the federal government, or in some people’s opinions, the moral majorists. Basically, the former group wants the legalization of what they consider a benign substance, while the latter believes that all controlled substances are a danger to society.

I find this an interesting debate because it almost seems silly that a substance like marijuana would be illegal when taken in context to liquor, tobacco, and pharmaceuticals, all of which are more physiologically harmful to the body (for a laugh you have just got to see what the man on the street says about it all). Along with that, consider the benefits the government would achieve through legalization, like taxation and control, you know, things governments typically care about. It’s not like it wouldn’t be lucrative. I mean, doesn’t Snoop Dog still live here?

On the flip side, the medical marijuana clinics aren’t helping their cause any by supplying healthy customers with pot. These “clinics” are exploiting gray areas to basically operate as legal drug dens. Hey, I’m the first one to say that we should legalize marijuana – prostitution too – but first we’ll have to overcome our deep-rooted puritanical mores. Until then, well, the law is the law.

What I find particularly hysterical is that opponents to marijuana legalization (I’m using the term opponents here loosely – please play along) are looking for anything to rationalize their position. They are feeling hard pressed to show that marijuana use is harmful, so the best they can come up with is that pot smokers may be at a higher risk for schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses.

Let’s get serious here. First, these results come from a meta-analysis (a comparative study) of 35 studies done over the last 27 years and not a single clinically controlled study. This means that the conclusions have been extrapolated and are therefore not definitive, not at all. Further, we have no way of knowing whether the mental illnesses observed were due to marijuana use, or whether the mentally ill are more likely to smoke marijuana. Basically, this is a flawed study. Even the study’s authors admit that “it may be impossible to establish for sure whether cannabis causes psychosis on the basis of current methods.”

But wait; before you start thinking that there are no health risks associated with marijuana use, think again. Pot smoking is hard on the lungs, so it could affect respiratory function (increased coughs, asthma, and upper respiratory infections) and cardiovascular capacity. Interestingly, though, it does not increase one’s chances of developing lung cancer.

It has other physiological consequences too, like possible dizziness, confusion, light-headedness, racing heart, agitation, feeling of tenseness, dry mouth, increased appetite, and loss of coordination. Marijuana also has cognitive consequences like short term memory loss, paranoia, anxiety, interruption of linear memory (difficulty following a train of thought), altered sense of time, psychological dependence, and loss of motivation.

So don’t think that pot smoking is all just fun and games – it has its risks too. But as I’ve said before, compared to some other substances that are perfectly legal in this country, marijuana does seem a bit lite by comparison.

4 Responses to Dummy Weed?

  1. Avatar Raina says:

    you hit the nail on the head regarding the whole medical marijuana debate! i agree that pot should be legalized, but people who are essentially drug dealers operating under the guise of medical clinics are doing no one any good! They sell to any pothead who can get his hands on a prescription – and then use the wrong arguments (these folks NEED pot) to try to justify their cause. This practice hurts those _few_ people who really do benefit medically from pot, since the mainstream perceives medical marijuana as merely a legal “cover” for otherwise illegal behavior, and it also draws attention away from the completely legitimate reasons why pot should be legalized and regulated for everyone, not just mendical patients.

  2. Um hmm. There is an incredible ad in the Hollywood Reporter which is basically soliciting film execs. It’s great. Tried to find it on the Web, but no luck. If anybody can get ahold of that ad, I’d sure love a copy.

  3. Avatar Anonymous says:

    You can’t blame the “Wellness Centers” for selling to anyone who gets a prescription! I wouldn’t want my Pharmacy second guessing my Dr’s prescriptions and I sure wouldn’t want someone at one of these clinics second guessing a prescription. If anyone should be held accountable for who gets “medical” marijuana, it should be the person who wrote the prescription. On the other hand, when the Federal Government threatens healers who are opperating legally under California law, it tends to discourage Dr’s who are afraid of bad press and losing their license to prescribe meds. When the honest and upstanding are terrorized, then the shady and slick fill the void. Let’s face it, the only way to stop marijuana use is to stop the desire for marijuana. Prohibition didn’t work for alchohol back then, the anti-marijuana laws haven’t worked now.

  4. OK – how about doing something like this: Legalize it. Control it much in the same way they do in the Netherlands – that is, confine it to certain areas (red light districts, bar and nightclub areas, etc.) – where café/club owners need to apply for licensure with it’s own unique tax requirements (along with the typical business and sales tax requirements, of course). Have an age restriction, like they do in bars/pubs, to keep out minors, say 18 or 21 years old. Require clubs to have an outdoor smoking area or smoking rooms to protect employees from second hand smoke. Let neighborhoods themselves have a say in whether to let clubs operate there (like they do now in L.A. with sex shops or even bars/pubs). Keep marijuana use confined to these “smoke cafes” or to one’s own private property, but outlaw public use, including streets, parks, concerts, sporting events, the beach, etc. Treat it very similarly to alcohol, such that you can’t drive while under the influence nor can you have an ingestible form in the cab of your car at any time (pot must be kept in the trunk, something like that). And, of course, possession can only be of small amounts. Punish illegal dealers/distributors in the same way they do now. Regulate and govern growers through permits, random inspections and the like – I guess through the FDA.
    Medically speaking, those who need it can have it subsidized through Medicare, but they must be registered with their states (HIV+ patients, cancer patients, etc.) That way doctors are taken out of the equation beyond the initial diagnosis, and perhaps the routine annual check up where “terminally ill” or “medically necessary” status is maintained. Medical necessity could be limited to the following illnesses: HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and any other disease approved by CDC and Medicare. Outside of these illnesses (i.e., not skateboard injuries, not chronic pain, not eating disorders, not mental illness, not depression, or any other random medical reason), no federal subsidy, period. You’ve got anything but cancer, AIDS or glaucoma, then you’ve gotta buy your own stuff.
    There, whaddaya think? Anybody want to take this blueprint and use it as a platform to run for Congress? Be my guest.

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