Recently, both California and Arizona took the long needed initiative and approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The California bill says that patients may use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. It does not, however, allow doctors to prescribe the drug. Arizona voters passed a bill that swings out even further to the left than California’s. Voters in Arizona think that people should be able to use any illicit drug for bona fide medical purposes. A recommendation by two doctors is enough to warrant a prescription.
Unfortunately, the bills passed in both states are terribly vague and are estined to be abused. Legalization of marijuana for medical purposes is a step in the right direction, but California and Arizona are going about it the wrong way. The chemical in marijuana that has medicinal benifits is delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Studies have shown that marijuana can ease pain, relieve nausea, and generally relax a person. Marijuana is cheap and easy to produce, so if legalized, it would be plentiful and probably widely used. The problem is that there are as many harmful effects from smoking marijuana as there are benefits.
It slows reflexes, dulls the brain, and sometimes causes hallucinations and/or cancer. There’s no mystery about why it is illegal in most parts of the world including the U. S. There is a simple solution that is not being discussed by the hard- headed bureaucracy. THC is easily removed from the plant and could be administered as medicine in pill form. What a novel idea! No actually it isn’t novel at all. Many other forms of illegal drugs are dispensed as medicine is this manner. Steroids (Cortizone, Prednizone and others) and opiates, namely odeine and morphine, are prescribed regularly to patients for pain relief.
Of course the doctors don’t dispense poppy seeds or cocaine, the drug comes in a pill. The amount of the drug is carefully regulated to prevent most side effects but to still have the medicinal qualities. THC would be just as easy to put in pill form, plus it has an important advantage over many other pain relieving drugs; THC is not adictive. Abuse of Tylenol 3 with Codeine is a very rare occurrence, even though it can become addictive. Therefore, the abuse of a doctor prescribed THC pill would be even less common.
The solution of putting THC in a pill has not been suggested before because it doesn’t satisfy the ultimate goal of either side of the debate. Those who are for legalization, such as Ethan Nadelman, the director of an institute that promotes deregulation of illicit drugs, are using medicine as an excuse to get marijuana legalized for recreational purposes. Those against legalization know the motives of people like Nadelman and are worried that any relaxation of the law will lead to more deregulation. The compromise of putting THC in a pill should partially satisfy both extremes of the argument.
It should also eliminate concern that legalization of marijuana for medical purposes will lead to the legalization of other illicit drugs. Marijuana would remain illegal but THC could be legalized in a manner that makes it very hard to abuse. Those who want marijuana legalized are using medicinal purposes as the backbone of their argument. This is the medicine they asked for. The drug would be available only by prescription, so it could be used only by people who legitimately need it. Why forgo a valuable medical resource because the abuse of that resource is illegal?
This type of ultra conservative thinking would eliminate most of the medications on the market today. No more cough syrup, it has alcohol in it. Robitussin is out of the question. There are enough opiates in a bottle to kill someone. Proponents of the legalization of marijuana are not really arguing over the legalization of the drug as a medicine. They want marijuana to be completely legalized. On the other hand, the status quo and red tape are keeping a perfectly good medicine off the market. A little less convention and a little more compromise would calm the uproar about legalization of marijuana.