12 states give OK to medicinal cannabis

April 14, 2007

Ed Kociela, OpEd, The Spectrum (UT)

Somebody finally got it right. Gov. Bill Richardson recently signed a bill that makes New Mexico the 12th state in the Union to allow medical use of marijuana.

How Richardson and the state legislature got it right was by deciding that instead of just allowing the compassionate medical practice, it would get into the business of producing and distributing the herb, something Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington have not quite come to grips with.


n New Mexico, you will soon be able to go to your doctor who, if it's appropriate, will write a prescription for medicinal cannabis. The patient will then make a purchase through a state-regulated facility.

No more argument about how many plants a medical marijuana patient may cultivate, no more arguments about the compassionate shops that sell cannabis even though they face the risk of federal drug agents raiding their legal stores, no more concern that those who use the drug are also cultivating it for sale.

It's all neat, clean and tidy.

Now, before you get on a high horse about this, let's make it perfectly clear that this is a plea for the legalization of marijuana for medicinal uses. Legalization for recreational use is a different issue. This is about medicine.

Imagine that your doctor says you have a medical condition for which there is no cure, one that will slowly rob you of your quality of life - from impotence to immobility. The condition is guaranteed to result in unrelenting pain that will, in fact, grow worse.

You'll get Lortab, Demerol or Oxycontin for pain. You'll get Soma or Skelaxin to relax the muscles. Probably some Prozac, Lexapro or Zoloft to help with depression and some Xanax or Valium to relieve those moments of high anxiety. Don't forget the Viagra or Cialis to maintain an intimate relationship with your partner, or other meds specific to your condition. And, you'll wind up addicted to one or more of these meds, guaranteed. Not so with cannabis.

According to a Mayo Clinic report (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/medical-marijuana/GA00014), researchers believe cannabis can aid in the treatment of nausea that accompanies chemotherapy or HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, Multiple Sclerosis, spasticity from spinal cord injuries, depression, chronic pain and other disorders.

Cannabis is more gentle on the system and less addictive than those other harsh drugs. It's cheaper. And dosage can be easily regulated by the patient.

Our kids? Recent studies indicate sedatives and painkillers are more popular than marijuana, with alcohol and tobacco the most frequent "gateway" drugs.

I really hope you never hear the Doc say "There's no cure."

But, if you do, I hope by then the government overcomes its prejudices against a medicine that can be of tremendous value to many, that is gentler on the body and can be much more affordable.

Contact Local News Editor Ed Kociela at ekociela@thespectrum.com or call 674-6237.



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