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No Medical Marijuana? What a Bummer, Man!

Is medical marijuana harmful to our society today? If medical marijuana dispensaries are approved by various states, they must be okay—right? Consider these scenarios taking place right now in Colorado.

The Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Michael Weisser of Carbondale, Colorado, was denied a permit to operate his business providing medical marijuana in a decision handed down on October 11, 2012. The perplexed businessman has had his shop doors open for about a year, but the town’s trustees have put a temporary halt to his business based on technicalities.

The trustees’ vote was divided, 4-3 against granting Weisser the license to operate. The opposing trustees stated that they had concerns about the filing of a sales tax license by the store’s original owner just two days before the town invoked a moratorium prohibiting any additional medical marijuana dispensaries.

The sales tax license was never revoked, but when Weisser purchased the business in 2011 he was ordered by the trustees to revise his business application because he had not revised the certificate of occupancy necessary when the store underwent remodeling. In addition, at this most recent hearing, he has been told to satisfy questions from the trustees about multiple addresses listed on his license.

Weisser’s business is clearly rated tops among shops when it comes to the green stuff—that means marijuana, not moolah—as Cannapages.com rates his product at 5 out of 5 points for overall product quality,  product, store, staff, and price. But apparently the town already has one marijuana dispensary and wants to avoid adding another and risk being viewed as a center of cannabis commerce.

Amendment 64

A concomitant Colorado issue concerns Amendment 64, appearing on the ballot in November. It proposes that persons age 21 and over shall not be prosecuted for possessing or consuming limited quantities of marijuana, for providing for the licensure of cultivation facilities, or for a slew of other allowances for possession or consumption.

Some proponents, including a group of doctors who endorsed passage of Amendment 64, advocate that it’s “time to embrace a more commonsense policy,” noting that they don’t see marijuana as harmful to teens—even though the passage of Amendment 64 would validate use and consumption only by those over the age of 21. That seems like comparing apples and oranges, so just what are they smoking?

Marijuana: Yes, It’s a Gateway Drug

Consider these statistics from the Drug Awareness page of Eureka County, Nevada:

  • Of people who don’t use marijuana, only 0.1 percent go on to try heroin. Of marijuana users, 9 percent try heroin.
  • Of adults who tried marijuana when they were teens, 62 percent of them go on to try cocaine.
  • Of adults who tried marijuana when they were teens, over 59 percent of them abuse psychotropic drugs, the pills that relieve anxiety or depression.
  • Each year, 2.1 million people try marijuana for the first time.

Why do people move on from marijuana to more harmful drugs? A study done by Hall and Lynskey in 2005 suggests that some people have a predisposition, either genetic or nurtured, to try a variety of drugs. Perhaps a more significant reason is a person’s integration into a drug-using culture; once they’ve experimented with marijuana and associated with the socioeconomic group that supports its use, they will tolerate a higher degree of exposure to illicit substances.

Does Medical Marijuana Help?

These facts are gathered form a variety of reliable sources about the effectiveness of medical marijuana. Read them and make your own decision:

  • For cancer patients and people suffering from other illnesses, said former U.S. Senator and medical doctor Bill Frist of Tennessee in 2003, there are many pharmaceutical analgesics that offer safer alternatives to pain relief than marijuana to help cancer patients and other pain victims.
  • The National Eye Institute in 2009 issued a statement, as a result of research that began in 1978, that marijuana for glaucoma did not reduce intraocular eye pressure more effectively than approved medications. In addition, it cautioned against the increased heart rate and decreased blood pressure associated with use of marijuana.
  • Many experts have cited the number of harmful carcinogens ingested into the lungs when marijuana is smoked, exposing the user to potential cancer or respiratory disease.
  • HIV/AIDS patients who use marijuana medically risk a decrease in their natural immunity as well as increased susceptibility to allergic pathogens.
  • Harmful effects of marijuana withdrawal include cravings, decreased appetite, aggression, instability, restlessness, insomnia, and anger, based on a 2001 report from the University of Arkansas Center for Addiction Research.

The Number One Reason to Oppose Medical Marijuana

Ask the adults you know who use drugs today, and be honest with yourself: How many of them first got high as teenagers, maybe even got high with their older siblings or parents? That scenario occurs far more common than most people believe. If that was how you first used, do you want to pass that legacy on to your children?

Of all the reasons to oppose medical marijuana, the number one reason involves the adults who support Amendment 64, the medical marijuana dispensaries, and the use of marijuana in general. When those adults characterize marijuana as harmless and even good, they contribute to a culture among our teens that abstinence from drugs is not necessary, that drug use can be normal and accepted.  Those children will be the 9 percent, the 59 percent, and the 62 percent who move on to more serious drugs. And that is something we cannot tolerate. 

Drug Awareness page of Eureka County, Nevada: http://www.co.eureka.nv.us/methsite/marijuana.html)

Hall and Lynskey, Drug Alcohol Rev 2005 Jan:24(1):39-48. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16191720

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