Pubdate: Mon, 19 Apr 2010
Source: Argus Leader (Sioux Falls, SD)
Copyright: 2010 Argus Leader
Author: Tony Ryan, a retired police officer
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - U.S.)


Fear of Arrest Shouldn't Be Part of Care for Some

As a retired police officer, I know well what it is like to work the 
front lines of keeping a community safe and secure. From this 
experience, and having relatives who have suffered from cancer, I 
have become a passionate supporter for safe access to medical 
marijuana. I am urging fellow South Dakotans to support the Safe 
Access Act (Initiated Measure 13) on the ballot this November.

The therapeutic use of marijuana is supported by an ever-growing 
consensus in medical and scientific communities. To name a few: the 
American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, 
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, American Academy of HIV Medicine, 
American Medical Students Association, Assembly of the American 
Psychiatric Association, American Pain Foundation, National Women's 
Health Network, several state medical associations and societies and 
the Federation of American Scientists.

In 1999, the government's own Institute of Medicine determined that 
"[n]ausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety, are all afflictions of 
wasting and can be mitigated by marijuana."

In 2008, the American College of Physicians, and in late 2009, the 
American Medical Association, both adopted resolutions that urge the 
federal government to re-classify marijuana so that more research and 
development of cannabis-based medicines can be pursued.

The growing trend of support is parallel to the overwhelming amount 
of research that consistently has shown marijuana to be effective at 
alleviating symptoms associated with cancer, glaucoma, multiple 
sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, lupus and a growing list of other ailments.

Patients who suffer these afflictions should have the safety and 
security of using doctor-recommended and research-supported therapy 
without fear of arrest, imprisonment and a criminal record. Under a 
legal, regulated system with Measure 13, patients would have the 
safety and assurance of cultivating their own medicine and would not 
need to go out on the street and buy it from drug dealers.

Measure 13 is about providing some of our state's most vulnerable 
residents with access to a legitimate medicine that an ever-growing 
body of research has shown to be safe and effective. Fourteen other 
states have passed medical marijuana laws, including our neighbors in 
Montana who passed a measure similar to our proposal by a margin of 
more than 20 percent in 2004.

Opponents have been quick to claim our measure sends the wrong 
message to children. However, the exact opposite is true. A 
considerable body of data shows that no state with a medical 
marijuana law has experienced an increase in youth marijuana use 
since its law's enactment. All states have reported overall decreases 
- - exceeding 50 percent in some age groups.

Although my perspective is shaped by 36 years of fighting crime, I 
don't think it takes a law enforcement background to agree that 
health care-related drug use is not deserving of criminal sanctions. 
Never could I imagine an elderly relative using a natural medicine to 
get through chemoradiation being in the same jail cell as a 
dangerous, violent criminal. Please join me this November in 
supporting Measure 13 so that state law will better protect sick and 
dying South Dakotans who need our compassion 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake