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October, 2003

Legalizing Marijuana To Benefit Society:
An Idea Whose Time Has Come
By Stephen Simac  
   Californians and citizens of eight other states in the federal union have made a criminal distinction between people who smoke cannabis as a physician recommended remedy and recreational users who just enjoy the effects of cannabis. The federal government and its drug enforcement agencies claim there is no distinction in federal law.
   The DEA and the Justice Department are just as willing to arrest and jail the sick and dying for using pot to alleviate their pain and suffering as they are healthy tokers who only use it to relax and have fun.  Growers and sellers of the herb no matter what their state of health are lumped in with murderers and rapists. They often are punished more harshly with longer  prison terms.

Smoke 300 Joints A Month Or Else
   There is a small group of individuals however who have been granted access to federally grown medical marijuana. They can legally travel with and publicly smoke US government issued cannabis. 
   The feds would prefer to keep these people hidden away in their sick rooms until they die an unpublicized death. They are members of the Food and Drug Association's Compassionate Investigational New Drug program.
   This is one of the most exclusive groups in the country because you had to be nearly dying to get in. Even then patients had to jump through an agonizing series of bureaucratic hoops. Only 15 extremely ill patients with conditions unabated by all other legal pharmaceutical drugs managed to get into the IND program during the dozen years it accepted applicants. In 1992 the first Bush administration, which made no pretense to be "compassionate conservatives," slammed the door shut on all other applicants including 35 who had been already approved.
   Only a handful of the original 15 are still alive and they are still alive because of medical marijuana. As long as they live the federal government is legally obligated to send them 300 joints of Missisippi "Muddy Waters" marijuana a month.
   George McMahon is one of those patients still alive, born with Nail Patella Syndrome a rare genetic disorder that has been like a life long torture chamber for him. Cannabis literally saved his life by easing his severe pain, cramps and nausea. 
  With the help of writer Christopher Largen, he's written and published his inspiring tale of how he became a federally sanctioned medical marijuana recipient in the IND program. More importantly his book,  "Prescription Pot: A leading advocate's heroic battle to legalize medical marijuana" (New Horizon Press, 2003).  is a warrior's tale of a man who rose from his death bed with marijuana, battled to gain his legal right to his medicine and is still fighting to change laws for millions of other patients. 
   He tells his story in a compelling and  straightforward voice that lays bare the official hyprocrisy around medical marijuana. The book contains several appendixes including an official report on the effects on health of Chronic Cannabis Use in the Compassionate Investigational New Drug Program by seven researchers. Their conclusion was that cannabis smoking provided effective relief of pain, muscle spasms and glaucoma in these patients without causing malignancies, neurological deterioration, immune system weakening with only mild pulmonary risk.  These were patients smoking up to 300 joints a month of low grade, poorly cured, harsh smoking dirt weed grown in Missisippi behind barbed wire. They are even required to smoke it as joints, no water pipes, vaporizers or eating it.  The pot they are sent is only slightly better quality than Government Cheese, yet it kept these sick people alive. The researchers even found that the patients were able to reduce or eliminate other prescription pharmaceuticals with their toxic side effects.  One of the real reasons feds opppose states' rights on medical marijuana.

Miracles With Marijuana Medicine
   There are many comprehensive books that provide evidence for  legalizing marijuana as a prescription medication.  Lester Grinspoon and James Bakalar have written the classic, "Marijuana: the Forbidden Medicine" (Yale University Press, 1997).  It details the extensive scientific research and patient testimonies for  dozens of medical conditions that have been effectively treated with cannabis. 
   Ethan Russo, M.D, one of the researchers on the health of patients in the Investigational Drug Program presented a policy paper on  Cannabis and Pain Management in Cannabis Health to the American Academy of Pain Management this year.   Since half of all Americans say they suffer from chronic pain any remedy would be enormously beneficial to society. Unless it is cannabis the feds say. Marijuana has been shown to be helpful in relieving neuropathic pain, inflammatory conditions, muscle spasms, nausea, depression and anxiety while stimulating appetite. 
   Russo's policy paper gives a historical overview of cannabis use for pain management, then destroys the feds official arguments for opposing medical marijuana.  He points out that higher potency pot reduces the amount needed to smoke for equivalent effects thus reducing lung problems.  
  The synthetic THC preparations Marinol and Dronabinol, which are loosely restricted Schedule III drugs are not as effective as smoked cannabis, a banned Schedule I drug.  The more potent pills have worse side effects and are more expensive even than black market marijuana, while government grown medical marijuana costs only a dime a joint to grow and roll.
 
The Injustice Department
   It's pretty obvious that Ashcroft's assaults on sick people to prevent them from gaining some relief from their suffering with medical marijuana is  only done to stall the movement to legalizing cannabis entirely. The tax potential alone for varietal cannabis grown and legally sold will beckon to deficit ridden states as a way to stave off higher motor vehicle taxes, a political killer. 
   The war on Marijuana users is the cornerstone for the failed War on Drugs, which is a supporting wall of the ever expanding security state.  The War on people who use illegal  Drugs supports and is supported by prosecution and defense lawyers, police unions, prison guard unions, along with the agencies and black marketeers who thrive off  it.
   Many medical marijuana are even caught up in the propaganda and don't approve of legalizing an herb for people who don't have a "medical necessity." Those sick and injured citizens of 9 states and one closed federal program who have gained some right to grow and smoke medical marijuana were supported by millions of current and former recreational users.

Changes In Altitude, Changes In Attitude
   Many of these users believe that getting high is the medicine for what ails western "civilization" and their own state of mind.  It relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, and encourages a connection with the earth.
   Recreational users of cannabis have survived and prospered despite a 70 year federal, state and local total war on them.  They have created a vibrant counterculture  with clandestine networks in the face of despots using Shock and Awe campaigns to beat them down. They have bent but not broken under the overwhelming forces arrayed against them.
    There are many entertaining novels and films that treat marijuana smokers and growers with more amusement and less dogma than official propaganda.  They reach more people than well researched, documented treatises but focus on the dazed and confused but harmless pothead stereotype.  There's some truth to that, but they usually ignore the creative impulses that flower from re-creational use of cannabis.
   I wish to praise the leaves of grass, especially the fragrant flowers. Without weed we'd still be listening to oompapa bands, cheering two handed set shots in basketball, there would be no personal computers, environmental movement, organic farming, or health food superstores.
   For all the creative juices the kind has stirred,  it does seem to dope most of it's users into complicity with the loss of their constitutional rights. Many  stoners won't even vote, "don't make no  difference, dude."  Pot reduces your cares and worries for a while, so effectively that the largest minority has not effectively  fought to restore their rights.
   Almost all illegal drug users in America are marijuana users, only a few percent use other illegal drugs.  These white powder drugs are unhealthy and are made worse by their criminalization. Marijuana has been linked with these other drugs with outright lies to hoodwink the voters, especially the elderly who would most benefit from medical cannabis and do vote. The  actual "gateway" drug by the government's own surveys is tobacco, even for pot smoking teens. 
 

 

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