MEDICAL MARIJUANA: State Task Force Looks to Other State, Editorials Weigh In
Confronted with the difficulty of instating the "vague" Proposition 215, State Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) is looking to other states that have enacted medical marijuana laws for guidance (Ainsworth, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/12). A separate article in the Union-Tribune reports that Lockyer's medical marijuana task force is also "working on ideas to create clear guidelines for identifying patients and distributing pot." Lockyer said, "They're trying to figure out how we can reform a law that was poorly written." During last month's trip to Washington, DC, to lobby federal officials to change their stance on medical marijuana, "in all of his discussions, the only glimmer of hope [Lockyer] said he received was a commitment to do more federal research on the possible medical benefits of marijuana" (Ainsworth, 4/12).
Debating the Gateway Effect
A USA Today editorial employs rhetoric worthy of Dr. Seuss, arguing that opponents of medical marijuana "hot to put pot on the spot" are resorting to arguments that the drug is a "gateway" to abuse of other drugs. The editorial points out that the recent Institute of Medicine study said that drug abuse-related issues "should not be a factor in evaluating therapeutic potential." The paper concludes, "With no meaningful social benefit in denying marijuana to suffering patients, there's no scientific reason to prevent scientists from exploring the drug's therapeutic potential" (USA Today, 4/12).
In the USA Today "Opposing View" column, the Family Research Council's Robert Maginnis argues that the "push for 'medical marijuana' laws is not about relieving suffering. It's about decriminalizing pot and, ultimately, other illicit drugs. And those driving the issue are recreational-marijuana smokers." Maginnis notes that "marijuana's active ingredient is available in pill form, and other, faster delivery systems -- inhalers, patches, suppositories -- may soon be available. That is the right course to pursue." Maginnis concludes, "Doctors don't prescribe smoked opium as a substitute for morphine. They shouldn't prescribe crude marijuana when pure medicine is available" (Maginnis, USA Today, 4/12).
Users Are Abusers
In a New York Daily News op-ed, Dr. Mitchell Rosenthal, president of Phoenix House, a national drug abuse treatment and prevention program, argues that the IOM study "should not trouble any conscientious physician." However, he argues, "what should concern physicians -- and everyone else, too -- is how casually the report dismisses the prospect of marijuana abuse as it becomes medically available, and what the study says about the concept of pot as a gateway drug." Rosenthal concludes that "by failing to acknowledge the need for concern about he impact of adolescent attitudes and the high risk of marijuana use by kids, the report unfortunately bolster the flawed arguments of the pot lobby" (New York Daily News, 4/11).
A Philadelphia Inquirer editorial argues that after "years of fighting ... perhaps a settlement of the 1960s marijuana wars finally can be negotiated." In addition to the IOM's report minimizing the drug's potential for addiction and its "gateway" effect, the Inquirer argues that the nation's "boom and economic expansion is being fueled today by millions of baby boomers" who once inhaled and have gone "into business, not cocaine and heroin." The editorial concludes, "Congress must step in to amend the nation's drug laws to encourage thorough clinical testing of marijuana as medicine, and to allow individuals to smoke the drug for limited medical use" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/10).