The Legalizing of Marijuana
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
destined 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
codeine 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.