Medical Marijuana Debate and Poll
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Twenty-eight states have laws on their books allowing some form of medical use of marijuana, which is prohibited under federal law.
Patients should be able to use marijuana to relieve suffering upon a doctor's advice.
This deserves to be a scientific medical issue, not a political issue
There is no conclusive scientific evidence that marijuana provides a therapeutic benefit that exceeds currently prescribed drugs
A two-year study done by 11
independent experts at the U.S. Institute of Medicine found that marijuana
appeared to be effective in treating the pain, nausea and severe weight
loss associated with AIDS. (They also found that the benefits of smoking
marijuana were limited because the smoke itself was so toxic.) The report
called for the development of standardized forms of the drugs, called
cannabinoids, that can be taken by an inhaler, similar to those used to
deliver asthma drugs. About three drug companies are now working on
official toking devices, Watson said, but it could be several years before
one comes to market.
Proponents of pot say it helps AIDS
patients keep eating; relieves nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing
chemotherapy; alleviates the chronic pain of conditions including headaches,
arthritis and degenerative nerve disease; reduces spasticity in multiple
sclerosis patients; and lowers the increased intraocular pressure associated
IN A STUDY published Thursday in the American Medical Association journal Archives of Ophthalmology, Keith Green, a Medical College of Georgia professor of ophthalmology, attacks “the fallacy that marijuana is of any value at all in the treatment of glaucoma.” Glaucoma is a degenerative eye disease that affects between 2 percent and 3 percent of people and is more likely in those with a family history of the disease. The normal eye maintains a constant pressure of fluid, but glaucoma causes a chemical change that blocks the outflow, Green said. That leads to increased pressure that can lead to blindness. Chemicals in marijuana called cannabinoids do seem to help improve the outflow in about 60 percent of the people who try it. But the pressure builds back up within four hours, Green said. In order to keep the pressure down, a person would have to smoke a joint every two hours, he said. “Smoking a joint a week is not going to cure glaucoma,” said Green.
Advocates for medical marijuana say even temporarily alleviating the pressure is better than doing nothing. “Should these patients suffer so?” asked Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws Foundation.
Critics have long claimed that smoking pot leads to use of harder drugs such as cocaine. Legalizing pot sends the wrong message.