Pubdate: Mon, 13 Jan 2014
Source: Post-Standard, The (Syracuse, NY)
Copyright: 2014 Advance Publications
Author: Gene Tinelli, MD, PhD


A young marijuana plant is shown in February at a medical-marijuana 
dispensary in San Jose, Calif. Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to allow 
limited access to medical marijuana for patients with qualifying 
conditions. (David Paul Morris | Bloomberg News)
By Your Letters
on January 13, 2014 at 8:30 AM, updated January 13, 2014 at 8:33 AM

To the Editor:

In a Jan. 9 story exploring Gov. Andrew Cuomo's agenda for the state, 
there was a synopsis of Cuomo's feeble attempt at removing the 
prohibition of medical marijuana (MJ) that included comments by a 
local addiction expert.

The expert stated: "Hyping it as a medical treatment is ridiculous. 
You will end up with a bunch of stupid stoners in New York with lung 
disease who think maybe they should go out on disability because they 
don't want to get off the couch."

Ignoring the inappropriate confluence of MJ use with indolent 
disability applications, the medical case for MJ is quite strong.

MJ, a version of hemp, has over 60 active compounds, the ratio of two 
of which, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabadiol (CBD), are 
responsible for most of its effects. They work with our 
endocannabinoid system, the second oldest neurochemical transmitter 
system in our bodies.

MJ has scientifically observed benefits in conditions ranging from 
PTSD, nausea and vomiting, multiple sclerosis, and a host of other 
often treatment-resistant conditions such as inflammatory bowel 
disease, migraine headaches and fibromyalgia. More excitingly, MJ 
appears have an antineoplastic and neuroprotective effects, has shown 
reduction of many different types of cancers, and is possibly 
protective in Alzheimer's disease.

With respect to lung disease, studies are inconclusive but some show 
less lung cancer in marijuana users, a cancer that should even be 
less frequent if marijuana is vaporized and not smoked. Also, 
long-term studies find no decline in lung function for occasional 
marijuana users.

MJ's lack of significant side effects has been known for centuries 
and in a 1988 ruling by U.S. DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge 
Francis Young "In the Matter of Marijuana Rescheduling," determined: 
"Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically 
active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis 
marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care."

As for the "stupid stoners" pejorative and outdated stereotype, 
people ranging from Carl Sagan to Steve Jobs were stoners. Which 
brings up an interesting question: How much more productive, creative 
and innovative would Sagan and Jobs have been if they never used marijuana?

What is ridiculous is the governor's piddling attempt to deal with 
the issue of marijuana. New York state used to be one of the most 
progressive states in America. We, like Colorado and Washington 
State, should end marijuana prohibition immediately and deal with 
policies that effectively regulate it in a free society.

Over two centuries ago, men like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas 
Jefferson sated: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all 
men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with 
certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and 
the pursuit of Happiness."

I believe that the personal use of marijuana easily fits the criteria 
of these unalienable rights.

Gene Tinelli, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychiatry

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science

SUNY Upstate Medical University
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