Med marijuana opponent lacks facts
October 11, 2007
Lanny Swerdlow, OpEd, Daily Bulletin (Inland Valley, CA)
Marijuana has been used as medicine for over 5,000 years by every civilization in human history. None has ever crumbled due to its use. Over the last 70 years, however, it has morphed into a plant so dangerous that America spends up to $20 billion a year arresting over 825,000 Americans.
According to an Aug. 21 article in the Daily Bulletin, Brenda Chabot, author of the Sept. 30 Point of View column "Medical marijuana a decoy in effort to legalize all drugs," is a former probation officer and her organization, Drug Free Community Coalition, is composed mainly of members with "backgrounds in law enforcement." They are the real decoy and are organized to protect law enforcement's access to this bottomless pit of taxpayer money. Anything that has the scent of legalization threatens their livelihoods and sends her into paroxysmal fits of "the sky is falling."
Claiming that "marijuana is a dangerous, addictive drug that poses significant health threats," Chabot does not cite a single peer-reviewed study showing any significant detrimental effects for the vast majority of cannabis consumers. There are no such studies. After a two-year study, Drug Enforcement Administration Judge Frances Young ruled that "marijuana in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man ... there is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis induced fatality ... by contrast aspirin, a commonly used over-the-counter medicine, causes hundreds of deaths every year."
Chabot cites a "comprehensive study in 1999" by the Institute of Medicine, stating that "the study concluded that smoking marijuana is not recommended for the treatment of any disease condition." But the executive summary for that study clearly states "there is no clear alternative for people suffering from chronic conditions that might be relieved by smoking marijuana, such as pain or AIDS wasting."
Disregarding the vast number of peer-reviewed studies documenting marijuana's effective symptomatic relief for a large number of ailments, especially those of senior citizens such as chronic pain, depression, insomnia, nausea, arthritis and appetite loss, Chabot ignores the thousands of doctors who recommend medicinal cannabis and Health Canada, which approved the sale of tincture of cannabis in 2005.
Chabot lauds the pharmaceutical drug Marinol as a substitute for marijuana even though it less effective and has undesirable side effects. Marinol is synthetic THC, the major pharmacologically active ingredient in marijuana. The difference between synthetic THC and natural THC found in marijuana is that the pharmaceutical companies can patent synthetic THC and sell Marinol for $10 a pill. They can't patent marijuana just as they can't patent aspirin and will lose billions of dollars if medical marijuana becomes available.
Polls conducted by CNN, Time and AARP consistently show over two-thirds of Americans approving the use of marijuana medicinally. The public can make intelligent informed decisions, but Chabot blames the media for the "misperception that marijuana is harmless or may even have health benefits."
Chabot claims these misperceptions lead teens to "believe that marijuana can cure cancer." They know something she doesn't. Studies conducted by Dr. Manuel Guzman at Spain's Compultense University Department of Biochemistry demonstrate that cannabinoids found in marijuana "are selective antitumor compounds, as they kill tumor cells without affecting their non-transformed counterparts."
Research conducted by Dr. Donald Tashkin of the UCLA School of Medicine found that smoking marijuana does not cause lung cancer and provided evidence that people who only smoke marijuana are less likely to develop lung cancer than people who don't smoke anything at all.
Failing to report the threats made by Riverside County District Attorney Grover Trask and U.S. Attorney Tom O'Brien to arrest elected officials that allow dispensaries to operate, Chabot's praise that they are "standing up against the plight of medical-marijuana dispensaries" rings hollow. Claremont, Diamond Bar and Palm Springs should be commended for allowing dispensaries to operate and for not caving in to the bluffs, bullying and blackmail of law enforcement.
Licensed, regulated and taxed medical marijuana dispensaries provide valuable services. The only research-based report on dispensaries concluded, "Oakland's permitted dispensaries continue to function without excessive drain on police resources. Three of the four dispensaries provide additional social services to their patients and the surrounding community."
I challenge Ms. Chabot to participate in a public forum bringing her medical experts to debate our medical experts about the safety and health benefits of marijuana. WARNING - Holding your breath waiting for Chabot and the Drug Free Community Coalition to engage in a public forum could be dangerous for your health.
Lanny Swerdlow, R.N., is a resident of Palm Springs and director of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project, an Inland Empire medical marijuana patient support group. He may be contacted at (760) 799-2055 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.