Medically used marijuana deserves discussion

May 10, 2004

EDITORIAL, Troy Record

Narcotics as strong as and not much different from heroin are routinely administered after major surgery, and opiates and the like are called into play for terminal patients as a way to ease their final days. 

Even on a lesser level, which of us can say we haven't begged for an analgesic laced with codeine when suffering the torment of, say, an abscessed tooth?

The drugs we are talking about are all addictive, all have the potential for abuse and all have been known to have been stolen or sold into the wrong hands.

But as a society, we rightfully accept these drugs, as they are a necessary tool of medicine.

Why then is Gov. George Pataki so dogged in his refusal to endorse the legalization of a much less potent drug, marijuana, for medicinal purposes? Remember, we are discussing doctor-prescribed use of marijuana.

Even as responsibly conservative a man as Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said - after a campaign for pharmaceutical legalization conducted in Albany last week - that the matter deserves special attention and consideration.

Sen. Bruno may, ultimately, oppose the measure, but at least he is willing to consider it.

So far, the governor has relied strictly on the state's own Department of Health, ignoring the bulk of evidence that points to medicinal use of marijuana as a positive measure.

As former talk show host Montel Williams - who suffers from multiple sclerosis - put it when in Albany in support of the measure, medical use of marijuana makes his life bearable.

Williams used pain controllers as strong as morphine, but he said they did not provide the relief from pain, tremor and spasms offered by marijuana.

Marijuana is a drug that should be controlled, but so are the other formulas for pain relief, and that doesn't keep them off the market.

Marijuana is believed to be less addictive and it has proven value in the treatment of afflictions as serious as cancer and multiple sclerosis, all the way down to treatment of glaucoma.

Marijuana became demonized as 'killer weed' in a league with heroin at the turn of the century by the liquor industry, which feared the competition for supremacy as the recreational drug of choice.

We are not advocating the recreational use of marijuana. We do believe, however, it is time it was treated the same as other legitimate drugs and get a thorough scrutiny and consideration before closing the door on its pharmaceutical use.

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