Pubdate: Sun, 28 Feb 2010
Source: Park Ridge Herald-Advocate (IL)
Section: To Your Good Health
Copyright: 2010 Sun-Times Media, LLC
Author: Terri Schmidt


Yup, just back from sunny San Diego, where the snapdragons are
blooming, surf's up and you can get pot on demand.

All you have to do is stroll by a dispensary, where you are told by
the friendly (high?) staff that a physician is available to write you
an instant prescription. Well, Illinois is minus the flowers and surf,
but if our legislators have their way, you and your kids could have a
pretty easy access to the pot.

That is the proposal under consideration. Senate Bill 1381 (sponsored
by Sen. William R. Haine, D-56th), as well as well as House Bill
2514,( sponsored by Rep. Lou Lang, D-16th) both provide that patients
and their caregivers will each be allowed to grow six marijuana
plants. Of those six, three mature female plants will yield 1,764
joints in two months, or 29 joints a day.

Do the math.

Assuming two caretakers per patient, that amounts to nearly 90 joints
a day. Even in my most industrious nicotine chain-smoking days, I
could only manage at most 25 cigs a day. So who is smoking the rest of
the stuff? Do our legislators really want us so stoned that we won't
notice what they're up to? California is on the brink of bankruptcy --
think about it.

Yes, I have heard all of the arguments, and I have read Mr. Linn's
letter representing the Illinois Cannabis Patient Association, in the
Feb. 16 edition of the Herald-Advocate. Well, I am a two-time cancer
survivor -- I told you those cigs were unhealthy.

Let's talk about it from a patient's point of view.

Yes, marijuana can help alleviate chemo nausea. But this bill is not
just for those patients who are seriously or terminally ill, as
suggested by Mr. Linn's letter. The way it is currently written, the
bill allows for conditions that produce "severe pain, severe nausea,
muscle spasms" (Page 3, lines 23-26 and Page 4, lines 1-5). So if you
hurt your back at the gym, you get to smoke. A little arthritis?
Ditto. Any of you out there worried about truckers with a sore back
driving while stoned? Are you worried about other employees working
while stoned? Good-bye drug-free workplaces! Hello low productivity,
poor quality control and workplace accidents.

Let's take another look at Mr. Linn's letter. He specifically mentions
that a joint will possibly prevent an epileptic seizure more quickly
than Marinol -- the pill form of medical cannabis. Time for more math.
According to the Epileptic Association of America, there are
approximately 3 million Americans with some form of seizure disorder.
Of this number, the rate of those with uncontrolled seizure disorder
who are most at risk of sudden death is 1 in 150 people years.

Compare the risk of sudden death in an uncontrolled seizure to the
risk of marijuana addiction -- 33,854 treatment admissions in Illinois
in 2006, according to the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse. Want
your kid to graduate high school, perhaps college? Then you should
know all the risks associated with your child perhaps getting some
marijuana from your friendly neighbor:

If I were to get cancer a third time, I think I'd prefer to take my
chances with more nausea than take on some of the risks associated
with this bill. If you also feel that this issue needs more discussion
and regulation, then please contact your state legislators ASAP. They
could pass these bills any day now. If you don't know who your
legislators are, check them out on your voter registration card. If
you don't have that, then register as a voter quickly.

You wouldn't want to miss out on all the action in Illinois would

Terri Schmidt, a licensed clinical social worker, writes "To Your
Good Health" for the Park Ridge Health Commission.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D