Current Events, Science

Marijuana is Not An Accepted Remedy, and There Are Substitutes

Marijuana is Not An Accepted Remedy, and There Are Substitutes
By James C. Backstrom, Duluth News Tribune

medicalM.N. — While Minnesota’s law enforcement leaders have compassion and sympathy for persons suffering from serious diseases and afflictions, we strongly oppose the adoption of a law legalizing marijuana for medical purposes for many reasons.First, marijuana is not an accepted medicine. Marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, which is illegal to possess or sell under federal and state law. Schedule I includes substances that have a high potential for abuse and the lack of any accepted medical use.

Additionally, the use of smoked marijuana has been rejected by the American Medical Association and, perhaps even more importantly, by the major medical organizations representing the groups of patients proponents say need it the most, such as the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Cancer Society.

What the proponents of this ill-advised proposal don’t want the public to know is that there are many medical substitutes that have gone through the necessary and rigorous testing procedures of the Food and Drug Administration to ensure safety for patients suffering from cancer and other serious debilitating diseases. In fact, there already exists a legalized form of “medical marijuana” in America. It’s called Marinol, and it can deliver accurate and safe dosages of THC (the most active ingredient of marijuana) to patients in the form of a pill. (It also is currently being studied for suitability by other delivery methods, such as an inhaler or patch, for those too nauseous from illness to take pills.)

More than 20 other FDA-approved medications exist for persons suffering from cancer (including the side effects of chemotherapy), glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and other serious ailments. Unlike other FDA-approved drugs, the potency or THC strength of marijuana (which has increased significantly in recent decades) cannot be regulated or monitored. No drug in America, by the way, is approved for delivery to a person through smoking, for obvious health-related reasons.

Because marijuana will remain illegal to possess under federal law, legalizing it for medical purposes will place Minnesota law enforcement officers in an untenable position when attempting to enforce the criminal law.

Testimony last year by the bill’s authors and supporters referred to it as a “tightly crafted” proposal that would impact only 150-200 sick and dying persons in Minnesota. Nothing could be further from the truth. This proposal would allow “registered organizations” to grow 12 marijuana plants for an unlimited number of “patients.” Each plant can produce 1-2 pounds of marijuana, and many plants can produce four yields a year. One ounce of marijuana can produce up to 23 joints; one pound could produce 448 joints; and 8 pounds could produce 3,600 joints. If this proposal becomes law, these “registered organizations” will be producing large quantities of “medical” marijuana which will make them easy and likely targets for theft.

As to the number of patients likely to use marijuana under this proposal, one need only check the statistics of the state of Oregon, which enacted a virtually identical law to that proposed in Minnesota. As of April 1, 16,635 persons have been issued medical marijuana cards in Oregon, 14,599 of whom were authorized to use it for “severe pain.” This is hardly a small number of seriously ill and dying persons.

For all these reasons, Minnesota’s law enforcement leaders strongly oppose the adoption of a law legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

James C. Backstrom is the Dakota County Attorney and president of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association



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