Is Medical Marijuana Really Medical?

The voters in my state (Arizona) passed a medical marijuana ballot proposition by a very, very narrow margin.  The issue wasn’t decided until quite awhile after the election, when all the early ballots were finally counted.  So it is fair to say that the voters are almost evenly split on the question of whether marijuana actually has a medical use as something you smoke or eat.  After all, we’ve already had it in pill form for decades, available to anyone whose doctor prescribed it.  I am not sure how many of the voters are aware of this.

One of the arguments used in favor of the proposition was that many of the prescription pain relief drugs have potentially dangerous side effects, yet no one seemed to acknowledge that marijuana is also an intoxicant, and if it is smoked it carries a significant lung disease risk.  It was presented as an option for those who are suffering from the effects of chemotherapy, but since marinol has already been available for years, what does the new law do for those patients?

The allegation has been made that most of those seeking medical marijuana cards in Arizona will be people who have “chronic pain” and have already been self-medicating with it.  Additionally, since it is still against federal law to smoke or eat marijuana, the dispensaries could potentially be closed down by federal authorities and the owners prosecuted.

The larger question in my mind is this:  does marijuana have a medical value when smoked or eaten in food?  Opposition to Arizona’s ballot proposition was almost non-existent.  Even if the opposition did not have much funding, where was the medical community on this issue?

As a person who came of age during the 1970s and who smoked more than my share of the stuff, I am under no illusions about it.  I used it for no other reason than to get high, and it took me quite awhile to work my way back out of the cloud.  When you examine the lives of people who have been using marijuana all along, what do you see?

The 1960s and 1970s brought many social changes, some of them good.  But those years also brought an increased tolerance for the abuse of illicit drugs, and those drugs found their way from the back alleys and the smoky jazz clubs into the mainstream.  Young people gravitated toward marijuana like the proverbial moth to the flame. Images of people wallowing in the mud at Woodstock show a rather primitive side of human nature. As a society, are we heading toward an era where there are so many people who are addled by one substance or another, that the sober will be unable to carry the load?

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