Pubdate: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Source: Shorthorn, The  (TX Edu Arlington)
Copyright: 2004 The Shorthorn.
Author: C J Patton
Bookmark: (Students for Sensible Drug Policy)
Bookmark: (Bush, George)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Speakers Tout The Benefits Of Medicinal Marijuana

Clayton Jones appeared before an audience Wednesday in Lone Star
Auditorium and unapologetically admitted to using marijuana on a daily

Jones was one of five speakers discussing the benefits of the
legalization of marijuana for medicinal uses. The forum was sponsored
by the UTA chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a national
organization pushing for the decriminalization of marijuana. About
half of the 30 students in attendance were members of the

Jones, an activist in favor of decriminalization, was injured in a
metallurgy plant in 1985 and lost both legs above the knees. His neck
was broken in three places and his back in seven.

"When I got out of the hospital, they had me on every drug you could
ever want," he said.

Jones eventually developed an allergy to doctor-prescribed
painkillers. He began to use marijuana for pain relief and said he
agrees with the policy of decriminalization. There are numerous proven
benefits and studies have not revealed negative effects.

"There isn't any reason people shouldn't have the knowledge that one
of the most effective medications is a weed," he said.

Jones said the government-sponsored anti-drug programs distort
scientific findings that marijuana is a proven benefit when used

"It was medicine before H. W. Bush; how is it not medicine now?" he

Bryon Adinoff, a psychiatry professor at UT-Southwestern, disagreed.
He said that although he thinks the benefits of medicinal marijuana
outweigh the detriments, there are scientifically proven damaging
effects of the drug.

"I hear somebody say, ‘It has no danger at all.' I tend to tune
them out because I know that it is potentially dangerous," he said.

Marijuana usage increases risk of heart attack, cancer to the head and
neck, psychosis and schizophrenia, Adinoff said.

He said in spite of these findings, marijuana still has potentially
beneficial uses when applied in moderation.

"It's not an all-or-nothing kind of thing," he said. "It's a balance,
like alcohol or nicotine."

James Quinn, an addictions correction and criminology professor at the
University of North Texas, said he approves the legalization of
marijuana because the costs of prosecuting users are far too high. He
said imprisonment of marijuana users costs between $13,000 per year at
the state level and $25,000 per year at the federal level.

"You thought the war in Iraq was expensive? That's expensive," he said.

Speaking from his criminology background, Quinn said the arguments
against marijuana as a violent drug were lies and most likely
political in nature. He said the government keeps marijuana illegal to
aid the drug companies and that societal studies disprove
misconceptions about the drug.

"Marijuana does not cause violence," he said. "A lot of people out
there have messed up minds, messed up lives and they also happen to
smoke marijuana. They commit crimes while on marijuana, but that's
true of any other drug."
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