by Jeff Clemetson, Editor
When given a choice, most people would pick a natural medicine over a pharmaceutical one if the results are mostly the same or better. It is an even better choice if the medicine can be easily grown and harvested in your own home or backyard. This November, voters in five states will be given a choice to legalize medical marijuana, giving people the freedom to use the herb to treat themselves in a more natural fashion.
Ballot initiatives in Massachusetts and Arkansas establish legal use of medical marijuana and ballot initiatives in Oregon, Washington and Colorado will strengthen existing laws by making marijuana legal for sale and subject to taxation. An additional four states – New York, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania – have medical marijuana laws that are due to come before state legislators in the coming year.
Medical marijuana has become a political hot political issue ever since California passed the first laws ending marijuana prohibition with the landmark Proposition 215 in 1996. Since then, 16 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing for patients to choose marijuana as a viable medicine for a variety of ailments.
Although debate still rages in the scientific community over the medical benefits of marijuana, patients who use it describe startling results for a number of health issues. Cancer patients use marijuana to curb the unwanted effects of chemotherapy like nausea and suppressed appetite. People who suffer from Multiple Sclerosis report increased motor function and an overall decrease in symptoms. Marijuana is a natural treatment for glaucoma. It also eases the suffering of people with rheumatoid arthritis. Recent studies have also pointed to chemical compounds in marijuana, other than its psychoactive chemical THC, as having properties that can slow the growth of certain types of cancer.
Despite the benefits of marijuana that patients who use it report and a growing nationwide sentiment to legalize the use of the herb, federal authorities remain obstinate to the idea of decriminalizing marijuana for medical use. The Drug Enforcement Agency as well as prosecutors in the Justice Department have come out strongly against states passing laws legalizing medical marijuana, despite a growing majority of US citizens who support such laws. State laws permitting the use of medical marijuana do not supersede federal laws banning its use, causing confusion for citizens, state prosecutors and law enforcement. However, the passage of laws like the ones that are being put before voters in Massachusetts, Arkansas, Colorado, Washington and Oregon and before state legislators in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois put additional pressure on the federal government to take a look at the effectiveness, the cost, the consequences and the adverse effects on patients’ civil liberties that marijuana prohibition causes.
For a more detailed look at the medical marijuana laws on this Novembers ballot, check out these Websites and vote for what you think is right:
If you support medical marijuana laws in these states, write letters to your state legislators and urge them to pass these bills that will be put before them this year: