Pubdate: Wed, 11 Dec 2013
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Author: Dan Linn


I'd like to clarify some of the confusion that Forum letter writer
Richard Smith has about medical marijuana. First, while marijuana is
still illegal federally, 20 states and Washington, D.C., allow for its
medical use in various ways besides smoking, such as vaporization,
edibles, tinctures, salves and even juiced.

Before marijuana was made illegal in 1937 against the recommendation
of the American Medical Association, it was one of the most widely
prescribed medicines. It has a long history of therapeutic uses
because it makes people feel better and has never been documented to
cause a fatal overdose.

Marijuana is much safer than many prescription and over-the-counter
drugs. The federal Centers for Disease Control reports that more
people die now from legal drugs than illegal drugs.

While Mr. Smith is correct that more states are limiting where smoking
can be done in public, he is incorrect that smoking marijuana is worse
than cigarette smoking. The largest study to look at whether smoking
marijuana was harmful found that it could lead to minor bronchial
problems, such as frequent cough or phlegm, but did not have the same
correlation as cigarette smoke for causing cancer.

Furthermore, the theory of marijuana as a gateway drug has been
debunked every time it has been studied. For sick people struggling to
survive with cancer, multiple sclerosis or constant pain, why should
we deprive them of a better quality of life because some people are
confused about a plant?

Marijuana prohibition has failed, and a recent Gallup poll found that
58 percent of Americans favor legalizing and taxing it. Perhaps our
politicians will catch up someday.

Dan Linn

Executive director

Illinois NORML