Pubdate: Wed, 15 Feb 2012
Source: Daily Athenaeum, The (U of WV Edu)
Copyright: 2012 The Daily Athenaeum
Author: Robert Davis


For the second consecutive year, some West Virginia officials will
attempt to legalize the medical use of marijuana. After an abrupt
dismissal of the proposal last year, Delegate Mike Manypenny of Taylor
County has introduced a new bill in the West Virginia House of Delegates.

House Bill 4498 seeks to legalize physician-supervised use of
marijuana by patients suffering from diseases such as cancer, HIV and

Why does this continue to be an issue?

If a substance has a unique medical application that can't be replaced
by a medication already on the market, it should be exploited to the
fullest extent. Especially one that is virtually harmless when
compared to other treatments.

Del. Manypenny will make his case for medical marijuana in Monday's
floor session in the House of Delegates. Although he is hopeful about
passing the bill, he is also realistic.

"Maybe half of the members have an interest in the bill," Manypenny
said. "But because it's an election year, they don't feel comfortable
with it."

Some West Virginia decision makers still have the 1930's "devil's
weed" image painted in their minds. Because of their unwillingness to
rethink their stance on the issue; thousands of West Virginians won't
receive the benefit of a safe, effective and inexpensive treatment.

According to the Food and Drug Administration's "Adverse Event"
reports from 1997-2005, 12 legal alternatives to marijuana were
considered to be the primary cause of 1,907 deaths in the U.S. During
that same time period, marijuana was the primary suspect of zero deaths.

I agree that marijuana isn't a cure-all remedy, but the data
supporting its effectiveness in people with a wide array of chronic
diseases is no longer ignorable.

Show me a study that is against the medical use of marijuana, and I'll
show you 30 more that support it.

Everyone is aware of states, such as California, where the system has
been abused to the point where anyone can choose from a list of
obscure ailments, and be legally prescribed marijuana.

This isn't the kind of system being proposed. If medical marijuana
were treated as any other prescription drug, it would be just that 
another prescription drug. The bill is explicit when it says cannabis
would only be used to treat those with "debilitating" medical conditions.

Many opponents of the medical use of cannabis fear a surge in its use.
The importance of laws that prevent abuse of the system cannot be overstated.

With a responsible system in place, the only rise in usage we should
expect to see is among the patients who will replace the more
intoxicating and addictive medications on the market today with this
relatively safe alternative.

Critics of the bill have stated that allowing prescription use of
marijuana will send a message to young people that smoking marijuana
is "OK."

Do most young people believe that because it is prescribed to adults
by a doctor, the recreational use of OxyContin or Viagra is
acceptable? Using this logic, should we ban the medical use of these
drugs as well?

A 2010 study, led by Rhode Island physician Esther Choo, found that
marijuana use did not increase among Rhode Island youth after its
medical legalization in 2006.

Some reports, such as one conducted by McGill University in Montreal,
even reported that "adolescent use may actually decrease following the
passing of medical marijuana laws."

Despite having the support of hundreds of studies, and the countless
personal testimonies of the effectiveness of its use in terminally ill
patients, those who seek to allow this untapped resource to be
utilized have been met with resistance.

"We have the highest rating of disabled people per capita, and those
people are paying between $700 and $1,000 dollars per month for
prescriptions," Manypenny said of the financial burden placed on West
Virginians by high-priced prescriptions.

Why not alleviate this burden with a medication that can be grown
inexpensively at home?

Our decision makers are taking their cue from you. The discussion of
medical marijuana, whether it's for it or against it, seems to be
non-existent in the Mountain State.

Contact your legislature and demand they consider the evidence of HB
4498. The more they hear from citizens, the more apt they will be to
accept it.

The legalization of medical marijuana isn't a question of if, but
when. With 16 states and the District of Columbia approving of the use
of medicinal marijuana, it is now more evident than ever that public
opinion on this matter is shifting.

Attempts to stonewall this bill will only prolong the suffering of
people who have no other alternative. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.