Pubdate: Mon, 12 May 2008
Source: Post-Bulletin (Rochester, MN)
Copyright: 2008 Post-Bulletin Company, LLC
Author: Bob Bushman
Referenced: The Institute of Medicine study
Note: Bushman is president of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers 
Bookmark: (Opinion)
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


The organizations that represent Minnesota's police chiefs, sheriffs, 
county attorneys, police officers and narcotics investigators are 
united in opposition to legislation that would authorize the use of 
marijuana for medical purposes.

The adoption of this legislation will pose numerous problems for 
Minnesota's law enforcement officials and will endanger the public's safety.

If this proposal passes, federal law will still prohibit the 
possession, use and sale of marijuana.  That will put Minnesota's law 
and law enforcement officers in direct conflict with our federal 
counterparts. One need only look at the situation in California, 
where marijuana has been legalized for medical use for some time, to 
see the extensive problems associated with the distribution of 
marijuana through hundreds of so-called "medical marijuana 
dispensaries," many of whom are purchasing marijuana-related drugs 
from organized criminals and the numerous so-called "patients" who 
are seeking marijuana for personal use without suffering from serious 
illness or disease.

In its raw form, marijuana is a dangerous drug and is not a medicine. 
While the pro-marijuana lobby will vigorously refute this fact, 
citing selective bits of information from inconclusive research, they 
fail to mention that many professional medical organizations, 
including those representing the patients proponents say need it the 
most (the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the American Academy 
of Ophthalmology, and the American Cancer Society) do not support the 
medical use of marijuana.

Currently, medical researchers and scientists are conducting studies 
to determine if certain properties of marijuana may be suitable for 
medical treatment of illnesses or ailments, which can be refined for 
safe pharmaceutical distribution. One such drug, Marinol, is 
currently available in pill form.

Marijuana has not been approved by the FDA as a medicine. Unlike 
every other legitimate medicine, there are no provisions in this 
legislation to control the production, quality, or the potency of the 
marijuana, nor are there any regulations to ensure its safe handling 
or packaging. People who will grow and sell marijuana for medical use 
will do so with little oversight. Why shouldn't marijuana be subject 
to the same rules, standards and FDA testing to ensure its safety, 
that every other medicine is?

Many of these same concerns have been expressed by members of the 
medical community, including the Minnesota Department of Human 
Services and the Minnesota Society of Addiction Medicine. A 1999 
landmark study of the Institute of Medicine found there is only 
anecdotal information on the medical benefits of smoked marijuana for 
some ailments, such as muscle spasticity.

For other ailments, such as epilepsy and glaucoma, the study found no 
evidence of medical value and did not endorse further research. This 
study concluded that there is little future in smoked marijuana as a 
medically approved medication because of the dangers of smoking a 
substance that contains many harmful substances.

Marijuana is also an addictive drug. According to the Minnesota 
Department of Human Services, 7,784 people who reported marijuana as 
their primary substance of abuse received addiction treatment in 
2007. That was 16 percent of all treatment admissions in our state last year.

We are also concerned about the diversion of "medical marijuana" 
supplies into the community. As law enforcement officers, we know 
that we already have a big problem with the diversion of FDA approved 
drugs and medicines for illegal uses. It isn't a great leap in logic 
to expect that large quantities of marijuana, grown and dispensed 
with little regulation, inspection or control will easily find their 
way out onto our streets and into the illegal drug markets of our communities.

This legislation is about disguising a dangerous drug as medicine, 
not about treating illness. Well-financed drug legalization activists 
from out of state are hiding behind the suffering of some of our most 
ill and emotionally fragile citizens to further their own agenda of 
drug legalization. If they are successful here, they will just pick 
up and go on to the next target, leaving us to deal with the problems.

We are not the bad guys. Our goal is to protect, not exploit our 
citizens. We are united in our belief that passage of this 
legislation will have negative consequences on our communities, our 
youth and all our citizens. We are out in front telling you that this 
legislation is bad public policy. If you don't believe us, then just 
ask our colleagues in California or Oregon about the problems 
"medical marijuana" has caused for them. They will be glad to tell you.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake