Critics of the 1996 ballot initiatives on medical marijuana maintain that these privately-well funded, carefully orchestrated measures are based essentialy on biased studies and scientifically unproven claims. Furthermore, they are interpreted by some as a first step toward the legalization of more dangerous drugs. what are these medical uses and what are the criticisms against them?
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The major criticism against marijuana for medical use--an argument increasingly on the decline--is that marijuana has no bona fide medical use and that the "medical use" argument is a bogus one that camouflages recreational use. In addition, another argument against it is that the side effects override any medical value of a non-FDA approved treatment.
The slippery slope fallacy--that if one thing happens, it will inevitably lead to something much worse--is just that, a fallacy. Medical marijuana initiatives have passed in more than a dozen states, and no one that I know of has put forth any proposals to legalize heroin or cocaine. It's a typical appeal to fear to try and motivate voters against such an initiative without considering the facts, or looking at the actual wording of the law or the experience in other states.
Marijuana is definitely useful in a number of medical situations and is already being used to treat certain conditions in the UK as listed above. However, as other editors point out, it is the wider societal impact of widespread legalisation that rightfully concerns many critics. What would be the impact on society as a whole if marijuana is legalised?
I've always been under the assumption, from what I've read, that marijuana can have legitimate medical uses. Apparently people suffering from AIDS find it helpful in relieving their pain. I'd be very interested in hearing the arguments on the other side of the issue. However, my "gut" instinct is that marijuana should be available for medical use under a doctor's supervision. The question you raise about potential abuse of the referendum process, however, is a good one. It's one to which I need to give more thought.
Marijuana use is not unlike the use of other drugs, stimulants or even foods. Most people seem to get the idea that most marijuana users sit around all day smoking, losing the inability to focus mentally or motivate themselves to do anything else. However, there are plenty of pot smokers who only use it once or twice a day--or even only once or twice per week--often after work or on weekends in order to relax. This type of usage is no different from a drinker who enjoys a couple of cocktails after a long day at work, or someone who smokes a couple cigars per day. Some people will abuse marijuana, just as alcoholics abuse liquor; just as obese people eat too much; and just like video game fans spend hours at a time on the computer. All of these things can become addictive to people who have addictive personalities. I think if marijuana was legalized, there would be little change in its usage by the people who smoke it. Some people will never use it, some will abuse it, and some will use it sparingly. The biggest difference is that the people who want to smoke it won't have to sneak around and buy it illicitly. It would be readily available and taxable, helping to shorten court dockets and create millions of dollars in tax revenue--just like alcohol and tobacco, which are far more dangerous and deadly vices.
Illegal drugs are named as such for many reasons; as pohnpei points out, escalating drug use is one. The use of marijuana in documented cases provides an understandable need/desire for the legalization. But, a problem arises given the use of "medical marijuana" is already being misused. The problem, then, arises that if the drug is already being used wrongly, when deemed illegal, what will come of it when it is legalized?
There are actually medical uses for marijuana that are agreed upon by the medical community. Notably, it is good for relieving pressure in the eyeballs caused by glaucoma. It is also a good painkiller for those with medical problems that cause constant pain.
The problem, of course, is that marijuana has side effects like impairment of mental function. There are also the societal worries -- worries that legalizing marijuana for any reason will lead to more drug use overall.
- On November 3, 1998, the Citizens of Washington State voted overwhelmingly to approve Initiative 692 into state law. As a result, this Initiative is now State Law. This provides a measure of protection for patients within the State of Washington. Because of the complexity of this issue, and the fact that the use of Medical Marijuana remains illegal on a federal level, we advise both patients and doctors to familiarize themselves with the specific protections and limitations of this new law. To this end, we have prepared an informational brochure outlining the new law. To read it online, go here.
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