Pubdate: Sun, 22 Dec 2013
Source: Quad-City Times (IA)
Copyright: 2013 Quad-City Times


The Iowans who told their medical marijuana stories to Quad-City 
Times readers in the Dec. 15 editions seem to come from a planet 
wholly unfamiliar to our region's top drug officers.

Times reporter Brian Wellner interviewed seven Iowans who were 
adamant that marijuana smoke, vapors, tincture and ointment are 
easing symptoms from verifiable illnesses that FDA-approved, 
opium-derived medications cannot. We reported on military veterans 
and the mothers of seriously ill toddlers who sought marijuana 
remedies to avoid the debilitating side effects of legal 
prescriptions. All were so convinced of marijuana's medical value, 
they were willing to share their names and photographs in a community 
where such disclosures still risk felony prosecution.

The effectiveness of medical marijuana is spreading across the 
nation, and Illinois is poised to open dispensaries in 2014. Yet the 
top police authorities interviewed for last Sunday's story seem stuck 
in an enforcement time warp anchored in the 1960s. Neither our local 
undercover drug team leader, nor Iowa's top drug control director had 
even considered how Illinois' medical marijuana law will impact our region.

Metropolitan Enforcement Group Director Kevin Winslow, who oversees 
undercover interdiction, seems to dismiss ample evidence about 
medical marijuana. "I don't want my children growing up thinking 
marijuana is medicine," Winslow told Times reporter Brian Wellner. 
Winslow is free to educate his children as he desires. But when 
making decisions on how to prioritize enforcement of drug laws in our 
community, he obviously needs more information.

Quad-City veterans desperately seeking relief from post-traumatic 
stress should not be prosecuted the same way as crack or meth users.

Yet, Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy seems to purposefully avoid 
marijuana's successful medical applications, and revert to old-timey, 
scared-straight tactics. The Office of Drug Control Policy's August 
report on marijuana legalization proclaims: "Marijuana is often used 
by methamphetamine users in Iowa. Many of the same criminal groups 
that smuggle meth into the State also bring and sell marijuana."

Some meth users may smoke marijuana. But usage stats supplied by the 
same office confirm that the vast majority of Iowa's marijuana users 
have nothing to do with meth.

Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy Director Steve Lukan told the 
Times he was comfortable deferring to the Food and Drug 
Administration on medicinal uses. His office recommends that Iowa 
keep marijuana a Schedule 1 substance unsuitable for medical uses, on 
par with LSD and cocaine.

It seems Lukan and the governor want to continue the same failed 
crackdown that threatens medical users and turns thousands of 
recreational users into criminals.

Iowans need their legislature to publicly discuss a drug control 
strategy rooted in contemporary research, not 1960s scare tactics.

Iowans need their legislature to move beyond counting meth lab busts 
to evaluate enforcement.

Iowans need their legislature to establish law that differentiates 
among medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, heroin, LSD, cocaine 
and meth. All are considered schedule 1 substances under Iowa law, 
subject to the same enforcement priority and punishment.

Just because Iowa law says so, they are not the same.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom