Pubdate: Mon, 05 Aug 2013
Source: Quad-City Times (IA)
Copyright: 2013 Quad-City Times


Illinois officially stumbled into the hazy world of medical 
marijuana, where a mish-mosh of conflicting state laws try to 
reinvent tried-and-true pharmacology practices.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed Illinois' medical marijuana bill, touted as the 
toughest in the nation. Perhaps. But in this nation, 20 state 
legislatures and the District of Columbia have dreamed up wildly 
inconsistent regulations that seem to overlook how modern medicine 
has regulated and prescribed narcotics for decades.

Anyone sick enough to need an opium-derived medication - Oxycodone, 
for example  can fill a prescription almost anywhere. Those needing 
medical marijuana are subject to various restrictions by different 
state legislatures.

The multiple sclerosis patient in Nevada is limited to an ounce at a 
time. The same patient in Oregon can hold a pound and a half. Maine 
patients can have up to six plants. Hawaiian patients are allowed up 
to seven plants, as long as four are not fully mature.

We are among those supporting cannabis prescriptions by medical 
professionals. We're also eager to see Iowa and Illinois 
decriminalize the substance that is behind the incarceration of 
thousands of young people. Marijuana trafficking under U.S. and state 
laws creates far more criminals than addicts, and builds a law 
enforcement empire that reaps millions in seized cash and goods.

We supported Illinois' medical marijuana bill as a first step towards 
a more rational drug policy. So we expect some awkward first steps in 
this process.

Illinois' law won bipartisan support with tough provisions that would 
cripple the pharmaceutical industry if applied to other medications. 
For example, Illinois law allots one growing center for each state 
police district. What other medication is manufactured based on state 
police management structure?

But we understand police concerns. In Colorado, a different kind of 
state law allowed dispensaries to pop up all over the state, 
resulting in a usage rate that seems more influenced by marketing 
than ailment. Denver County, covering the capital city's urban area, 
reports 2.8 percent of all residents hold a marijuana prescription. 
Neighboring suburban Adams County reports just 1.8 percent of all 
residents with a prescription.

All of these various state laws permit physicians to prescribe a raw 
substance that has yet to face Food and Drug Administration scrutiny.

Quad-City hospital leaders told Times health reporter Deirdre Baker 
that local physicians are only beginning to consider how they'll 
respond to the new law.

Unlike the trade-name drugs widely advertised every day on TV, 
medical marijuana doesn't have pharmaceutical reps plying physicians 
with lunches and trips in return for business. Right now, demand is 
created mainly by gravely ill patients struggling for relief from 
pain, nausea and other symptoms for which marijuana has proven helpful.

Despite legislation authorizing medical marijuana in 20 states and 
our nation's capital, the American Medical Association and most state 
associations have stayed mum. The Illinois State Medical Society last 
Wednesday declared itself "neutral" on the issue.

With this absence of physician leadership, medical marijuana remains 
the province of critically ill patients and police.

Both deserve better.

Illinois medical professionals watched the same public legislative 
debate as everyone else, and now are staying silent as medical 
marijuana becomes law in their state. Now Illinois patients need 
guidance from their physicians.

Iowans likely will, too. All signs suggest growing support for 
medical marijuana across the nation. No need for Iowa physicians to 
wait for police and lawmakers to cobble together the 22nd version of 
this nationwide trend.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom