Pubdate: Fri, 09 Jul 2010
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Copyright: 2010 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Author: Paul Armentano


Critics' claim that marijuana is "too dangerous" a substance to allow
for therapeutic purposes demonstrates a willful ignorance of the
science surrounding its use ("Medical marijuana too dangerous,
costly," June 30).

For example, in February, the results of a series of randomized,
placebo-controlled clinical trials performed by the University of
California concluded that inhaled cannabis is safe and effective as a
medicine, particularly in the treatment of multiple sclerosis and
neuropathic pain.

Months earlier, the American Medical Association's Council on Science
and Public Health reported, "Results of short term controlled trials
indicate that smoked cannabis reduces neuropathic pain, improves
appetite and caloric intake especially in patients with reduced muscle
mass, and may relieve spasticity and pain in patients with multiple

Cannabinoids, the therapeutic components in the marijuana plant, are
virtually non-toxic to healthy cells and organs, do not depress the
central nervous system and are incapable of causing a fatal overdose.

By contrast, most readily available prescription and over the counter
drugs, including acetaminophen and ibuprofen, possess a variety of
toxic side effects -- including liver failure and death.

Objective science, not rhetoric, should guide New York's marijuana
policies. It makes no sense to continue to arrest and prosecute people
who find therapeutic relief from cannabis.

Paul Armentano

Washington, D.C.

The writer is deputy director of NORML, the National Organization for 
the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and co-author of "Marijuana Is Safer: So 
Why Are We Driving People to Drink?"
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