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Marijuana Is No Rx.

By admin | December 3, 2004

Investor’s Business Daily
Dec 2, 2004.

The Law: The Supreme Court has once again heard arguments in a case involving so-called medical marijuana. And once again, compassion for the sick and dying is being exploited by those with another agenda.

Three years ago the court ruled 8-0 that federal laws supersede state laws and that federal law prohibits the distribution or sale of marijuana. In so doing, it refused to protect “clubs” that distributed “medical” marijuana from federal charges.

Now, in a ruling on a case brought by Angel Raich, who suffers from a brain tumor, and Diane Monson, who suffers from degenerative spinal disease, the (surprise!) San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court has found that federal prosecution of medical marijuana users who use homegrown cannabis with their doctor’s permission and their state’s approval is unconstitutional.

Many supporters of medical marijuana claim their purpose is to relieve suffering and not use the issue as a means to legalize drugs. But when asked in a January 2000 interview if medical marijuana was a Trojan horse for drug legalization, the director of an organization dedicated to ending the drug war replied: “I hope so.”

Fact is, smoked marijuana has no medical value that can’t be met by a legal, FDA (news – web sites)-approved prescription drug called Marinol that contains the active ingredient in marijuana. Marinol is administered in a controlled dose and has been cleared by the medical community.

It has been found to relieve the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy for cancer patients and to assist with loss of appetite for AIDS (news – web sites) patients. According to Dr. Andrea Barthwell, past president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the only property that Marinol lacks is the capacity to create a “high.”

The first rule of medicine is to do no harm. According to the National Institutes of Health (news – web sites), someone who smokes five joints a week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a pack of cigarettes daily. Smoking one marijuana cigarette deposits four times as much tar into the lungs as a filtered tobacco cigarette.

A study by a team of researchers led by Dr. Thomas Klein at the University of South Florida and published in the journal DNA and Cell Biology shows that marijuana alters the immune system as well as the brain. In those whose immune systems are already impaired, marijuana may actually aggravate deteriorating health.

Raich and Monson may have a legitimate medical need for pain relief and a legitimate hope that smoked marijuana can provide it. But as Justice Stephen Breyer (news – web sites) has noted, if the medical marijuana laws are allowed to stand, “Everybody will say mine is medical.”

It’s true some chemicals in the marijuana plant offer some potential for medical use. Yet smoking the raw plant, which is what advocates want approved, is a method of delivery supported by neither law nor scientific evidence — and as a pain-killer has about as much utility as a good bottle of bourbon.

The medical marijuana movement is blowing smoke.

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