Friday, May 7, 2010

I’m a supporter of legalizing marijuana. For a variety of reasons. But first, some history. I doubt that most readers realize that the drug was legal in the United States until 1906 when the first pprohibitions of cannabis were instated. By the mid-1930s, cannabis was regulated in every state by laws instituted through The Uniform State Narcotic Act. In the 1970s, some states started to decriminalize cannabis. Most places that have decriminalized cannabis have one or more of civil fines, drug education, drug treatment in place of incarceration, criminal charges for possession of small amounts of cannabis, or have made various cannabis offenses the lowest priority for law enforcement. In the 1990s many states began to legalize medical cannabis. This conflicts with federal laws because cannabis is a Schedule I drug according to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. (The DEA classifies drugs into several tiers based on numerous criteria. To prescribe medications, physicians must have a license and prescribe only within the levels for which they’re licensed.) Washington, where I live, approved the use in 1998 for any medical condition in which the “potential benefits of the medical use of cannabis would likely outweigh the health risks.” Patients diagnosed with cachexia; cancer; HIV or AIDS; epilepsy; glaucoma; and multiple sclerosis are given legal protection under this act. Other medical conditions are subject to approval by the Washington Board of Health.

In Washington State patients may legally possess or grow no more than a 60-day supply of cannabis. The American Medical Association and the California Medical Association have both, separately, called for more research on Marijuana. “...CMA considers the criminalization of marijuana to be a failed public health policy; and be it further resolved that CMA encourage and participate in debate and education regarding the health aspects of changing current policy regarding cannabis use.”

My personal and professional opinion is that marijuana is no more physically harmful or carry more potential for abuse than does alcohol. Certainly, the most addictive legalized drug presently available to citizens is tobacco. With increasing medical costs and decreasing ability to fund these costs, a reasonable tax on legalized marijuana would be another revenue source.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Dr. Wyler,

    I agree with you.

    I personally don't smoke marijuana any more, primarily because of my concerns, both for the possible health effects, since I also smoked cigarettes off and on for over 25 years, and for the possibly extreme legal and professional consequences should my use be discovered. (I have 5 people dependent on me, including my son, who has a very serious angiopathy involving his left hemisphere, resulting in strokes beginning around age 3 years, and onset of seizures a few years ago, at age 15 years- I can't have my career ended over smoking pot- it's not worth it).

    I certainly enjoyed marijuana more than any recreational substance i ever tried. I think the type of euphoria it produces is very pleasant, and it improves mood as well as some types of creative thought. The only side effect I didn't like, (probably because I discovered at age 40 I had always had ADD, as well as a mild learning disorder), was that it seemed to demotivate me, became sort of a self-medication, an end in itself.

    At any rate, I do not think it is in any way a "gateway drug", except in persons already exhibiting addictive, drug-seeking behaviors related to psychiatric, mood, or behavioral disorders.

    Further, it creates an huge underground economy, involving crime syndicates, gangs, even paramilitary (and military) facilitators from the highest levels of governments, down.

    Legalization, or decriminalization for personal use, would not only deal a crippling blow to the underworld marketeers and thugs, but also free up government monies for treatment programs and eradication of large illegal commercial pot farms. Mexico is about to go under from all the drug violence and paramilitary actions.

    One more thing- hemp fiber makes fine rope, cord, even fabric, and has huge commercial potential in itself...and it grows "like a weed", as they say.

    Well, I guess another lingering side effect may be the tendency to ramble, so I'll stop here.

    I'm both surprised and pleased to hear you come out in support of legalization of marijuana. It's a really great plant. I miss it very much!