Pubdate: Sun, 30 Sep 2012
Source: Topeka Capital-Journal (KS)
Copyright: 2012 The Topeka Capital-Journal
Author: Corey Jones


Experts, Advocates Tout Benefits of Cannabis

Topeka City Councilman Andrew Gray sees benefits to legalizing

For instance, he said, a wonderful revenue source for governments
would be created if marijuana were regulated and taxed. Gray also
cited potential quality of life gains to be had from medical weed -
more diverse treatment and pain management options would be available
outside of pharmaceutical drugs.

Gray was among several speakers Saturday afternoon during a rally on
the south side of the Statehouse in support of cannabis. Experts and
advocates stood behind a lectern in turn to tout marijuana and stump
for its legalization.

But the first point the councilman drives home is that he doesn't feel
government should be delving so deep into people's lives as to ban

"I don't really care what a consenting adult does if they're not
depriving someone else of their property or liberty," said Gray, a
Libertarian. "And somebody at home using marijuana for recreational or
medicinal purposes is no different than someone having three or four
martinis at their home."

He asked the crowd of nearly 100 people if any of them had ever, for
any reason, used marijuana. It appeared all hands rose in response.

Jon Hauxwell, a retired family physician who now makes his home in
Hays, was the first speaker. He said more than 93 million Americans
have used cannabis, be it medicinal or recreational.

"The genie is out of the bottle," he said.

Hauxwell, also a retired captain in the U.S. Public Health Service
Commissioned Corps, made the point that marijuana is less addictive
than many legal drugs, such as Valium. An overdose of cannabis has no
ill effects, he said, but other legal drugs, such as aspirin or
alcohol, can kill a person.

However, he doesn't support legalizing the drug for all

"I emphatically don't recommend cannabis use, medical or otherwise, by
people whose brains are still maturing - that is youth," Hauxwell said.

Enough is known about marijuana now, he said, to allow doctors to help
patients assess the potential of the drug for treatment of their
disorders as with any other medicine.

"Denying patients access to this unique medication is unconscionable,"
he said.

David Mulford, with the Kansas Medicinal Cannabis Network, credits his
life to the drug. Mulford told the crowd about a disorder doctors have
been unable to diagnose in him that creates painful muscle spasms
throughout his body.

In 2001, Mulford had his aorta replaced. Doctors told him not to plan
for anything beyond 18 months based on the possibility that his spasms
would cause the sutures to rip open. However, through the use of
medicinal marijuana, Mulford said he has been able to not only stop
spasms but prevent them.

"I think I can lay a lot of this on cannabis," he said of being alive
a decade later.

Esau Freeman ran in the Democratic primary in the 4th District for the
U.S. House of Representatives this election cycle. Freeman highlighted
the importance of contacting elected officials to get the ball rolling
on a pro-marijuana agenda. Paramount to achieving the legalization of
cannabis, he said, is fundraising and political action.

Freeman said the federal government has dragged its feet long enough
on the issue.

"Friends," he said, "it's time to take off the funny hats, it's time
to put on a bra, it's time to put on a tie, and it's time to walk into
the Libertarian Party, the Democratic Party or the Republican Party
and do something about this now."
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