Pubdate: Thu, 07 Aug 2014
Source: Monroe Evening News (MI)
Copyright: 2014, The Monroe Evening News
Author: Charles Slat


Last week, The New York Times published an editorial calling for the 
federal legalization of marijuana but suggested it should be left to 
individual states about whether it should be legal within their 
individual boundaries.

The Times made a number of logical arguments, including comparing the 
criminalization of marijuana with the outlawing of alcohol in the 
Prohibition era. The Times said marijuana should be legal for 
recreational and medical use. It noted that arrests for marijuana far 
outstrip the number of arrests for more serious and more dangerous 
substances, including heroin and cocaine, and the enforcement tends 
to waste law enforcement resources that could be spent better on more 
serious crimes.

But the newspaper said if marijuana was decriminalized, it only 
should be legal for those 21 and older.

The Times' editorial board must have been smoking something.

If they had pondered the idea seriously, they would have advocated a 
federal law that made marijuana use legal only for medicinal reasons.

And they should have advocated enforcement for other users but by 
happenstance only, such as if someone is stopped for a traffic 
violation and is found with non-medical marijuana.

My view of this is based purely on economic reasons. To be sure, a 
lot of law enforcement resources seem to be wasted on busting 
marijuana growers and possessors when the emphasis should be on 
purveyors of harder drugs such as heroin and cocaine, as well as 
widespread illicit trafficking in powerful prescription pain-killing drugs.

My view also is based on personal discussions with people who use 
marijuana for medicinal purposes -- people who never believed they 
would use marijuana but who've found it truly has helped their health 

I don't have their health problems, so I'm not going to judge them, 
and medicinal use is legal in Michigan anyway.

But a few times in my life, I've also experienced almost unbearable 
pain -- pain so foreign to me I cannot comprehend how people with 
such chronic pain can continue to live.

Indeed, a common medical practice for those who are terminally ill is 
to administer increasing doses of morphine to make their passing more 
bearable. I would not deny anyone the right to use marijuana, or any 
other drug, if it eases maddening pain.

So I think medicinal marijuana should be allowed on a regulated basis 
- -- though probably a bit more regulated than now is allowed in Michigan.

But allowing widespread legal use of marijuana for "recreational" 
purposes is a bad idea, and not because of the bizarre contention 
that it "automatically" leads to use of harder drugs and contributes 
to a variety of other social ills. In fact, recent studies show that 
teen use of marijuana has ebbed.

But the federal government should not be encouraging use of marijuana 
because the most common way to use marijuana is to smoke it. And 
although some studies show that smoking marijuana is not as dangerous 
as smoking tobacco, it does pose increased risks of cancer and heart disease.

Americans do not need another legal method to increase their risks of 
cancer or heart disease.

Don't take my word for this. All sorts of reputable health and cancer 
organizations have detailed some of the risks involved in smoking 
marijuana. Even NORML, the national organization favoring 
legalization of marijuana, provides a very evenhanded assessment of 
the risks of smoking marijuana on its Web site. In fact, it suggests 
that those who use marijuana do so only through vaporization of the 
substance, rather than smoking, as a way to reduce health risks.

However, if you have chronic pain, or already are dying of cancer or 
heart disease, I think it should be up to you and your doctor to 
decide if marijuana can make life more bearable. There are a handful 
of doctors in the area who already prescribe marijuana, but they 
don't necessarily want the publicity for fear of some backlash.

 From my perspective, these doctors might be more honorable than 
those who prescribe legal but addictive prescription drugs from their 
moneymaking pill mills. Too many of those prescription pills, by the 
way, end up being resold on the street to addicts for big bucks. They 
are legal, in a way, but far more dangerous than illegal marijuana.

Besides, legalizing medical marijuana on a national scale might 
increase the quality of the substance. No longer will those with 
medical reasons to use marijuana have to fear its source or purity.

And it might generate a number of businesses.

Consider that in the United States, a couple of public companies 
already have formed to grow and sell marijuana and related products 
after Colorado and Washington legalized it for recreational use.

You can buy shares of a company called Medical Marijuana Inc. for 
around 20 cents a share. About 4 million shares a day are traded in 
this tiny company.

But guess what? Canada is way ahead of the United States.

It is one of the few countries where medical marijuana is legal 
nationwide. Licensed operators produce it, and more than 850 
companies have been formed to mass-produce it, hoping to tap a market 
expected to be worth more than $1.2 billion within 10 years.

Many of the private investment dollars in those Canadian companies 
are coming from the United States.

It's high time the federal government saw the economic and common 
sense in broadening the medicinal use of marijuana, considering 21 
states already allow some form of that.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom