The Truth About Medical Marijuana

August 12, 2011 1 Comment by Arizona Dispense

The Truth About Medical Marijuana
By Doug Banfelder

The Arizona Republic has apparently decided not to print this rebuttal to “addiction psychiatrist” and marijuana prohibitionist Ed Gogek’s “My Turn” editorial that appeared in the paper on 8/4/11.

In an effort to sow the seeds of public confusion, marijuana prohibitionist Edward Gogek employs tired rhetoric about “drug abusers” and “recreational use” (My Turn, August 4) while conveniently ignoring the truth about medical marijuana and the patients who benefit from it.

First, he complains that most medical marijuana (“MMJ”) patients cite pain as their reason for seeking a state card. Yes, pain is the predominant ailment cited, but what does this prove? Many experience the “aches and pains” of advancing age – and almost 40% of MMJ patients are over fifty.

Might it be that people suffering from daily pain simply prefer a natural herbal remedy to those manufactured in a lab? If one can choose between a drug with pleasant side affects verses those with adverse consequences, which is the more logical choice?

Mr. Gogek also makes much of the fact that most MMJ patients are men, while women generally claim pain more often to their doctors. To strengthen his thesis he adds the assertion that substance abuse is primarily a male disorder, and concludes that since more men than woman are currently Arizona MMJ patients, they must be using marijuana for purely recreational reasons.

Consider, however, the political and legal status of Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act: confusion reigns, thanks in part to the Governor and Attorney General’s federal lawsuit (to which federal lawyers have recently responded by filing a motion to dismiss for lack of legal merit) and generally negative local media coverage.

Is it really any surprise that qualifying women patients have not come forward in their true number, when seeking a patient card more resembles an act of defiance than the exercise of a perfectly legal right?

Prohibitionists such as Mr. Gogek want Arizona to go back to criminalizing these citizens and restricting their pain relief choices to expensive, addictive, synthetic medications. This is the conditioned response of someone under the influence of seventy years of anti-marijuana propaganda.

The failed, expensive and hypocritical “War on Drugs” incarcerates peaceful citizens at heavy social cost. Breaking up families and causing productive wage earners to lose their jobs simply for seeking relief from pain or other ailments is neither fair nor wise public policy.

The general public clearly understands this. Currently, twenty-five percent of Americans live in a state with medical marijuana programs, with more and more states considering such legislation.

Those who doubt that marijuana has medicinal value should speak with a patient; the range of conditions marijuana helps patients manage is truly astonishing, and must be why the pharmaceutical industry now has over fifty researchers attempting to isolate the plants’ active ingredients.

Attorney General Tom Horne has estimated that Arizona’s medical marijuana industry could generate $40 million annually in taxes; others say that it could be significantly more. The public supports adding a reasonable sales tax to medical marijuana. Arizona could certainly use the funds, and should allow patients their choice of medicine as provided by passage of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.

Mr. Gogek could then return his focus to treating abusers of hard drugs such as methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, oxycontin, hydrocodone and percocet. Medical Marijuana is a safe alternative to many over-prescribed pain relievers; as such, it should be welcomed by those professing an interest in saving people from the ravages of drug abuse.

The Protect Arizona Patients Coalition urges the Arizona Republic to report objectively on the issue of medical marijuana. To do so requires only that its reporters talk with MMJ patients and their doctors. Many of our members would welcome that opportunity.

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