Pubdate: Tue, 29 Apr 2014
Source: Citizens' Voice, The (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
Copyright: 2014 The Citizens' Voice
Page: 14


The heroin epidemic ravaging the nation is tied closely to the
availability of powerful, legal prescription painkillers classified as
opioids. People become addicted to the painkillers but switch to
heroin, which generally is cheaper and easier to obtain.

Such abuse of legal drugs is illegal and regrettable. But it should
not, and does not, prevent medical professionals from prescribing the
legal drugs for people who need them. And then, there is marijuana.
Marijuana is a curious case in the United States because its
provenance in the culture is as a "recreational" drug. Yet marijuana
has been shown to have therapeutic effects, including pain relief,
nausea suppression and appetite stimulation. And now, an oil derived
from marijuana has shown promise as a treatment for Dravet syndrome, a
seizure disorder that affects young children.

Two state senators, Democrat Daylin Leach of Montgomery County and
Republican Mike Folmer of Lebanon County, have introduced a narrow
bill that would authorize use of the oil in Pennsylvania to treat
children suffering from the seizures.

Gov. Tom Corbett and Republican leaders in both houses have said they
won't support the bill because they believe that such policy should be
set at the federal level.

Ideally, this is just what should happen - and at some point it
probably will happen. In the meantime, 20 other states that have
approved the prescription of medical marijuana by medical
professionals aren't waiting.

Pennsylvania should join them in approving not only the narrow bill,
but in trusting medical professionals to prescribe marijuana-based
medicines for patients who can benefit from their use.

The Obama administration already has demonstrated that it won't
prosecute medicinal marijuana use where state legislatures, voters, or
both have authorized it.

The state government foolishly has prevented several hundred thousand
Pennsylvanians from obtaining health care coverage due to political
differences with the Obama administration. It should not now defer to
the federal government to deny Pennsylvanians access to medicine that
could help treat their illnesses.
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