We are now on a new level of truth and understanding of marijuana. The old lies are now exposed. Marijuana is not a demon, it is a medicinal herb. Marijuana does not turn people into homicidal maniacs; it safely treats a wide variety of physical and emotional illnesses. Marijuana is not a gateway to addiction; it is a plant that people use to treat stress … and it is safer than alcohol. Fear of addiction created a marijuana policy based on fear and ignorance. We now know that addiction is a disease that can be treated. And marijuana helps people who are addicted to alcohol to stop their problem drinking.
Federal marijuana laws are changing. President Obama has said that medical marijuana policy should be determined by the states. Laws that were conceived in fear and fueled by ignorance and bigotry are being replaced by laws based on knowledge and scientific integrity.
Scientists have demonstrated the medical value of Cannabis. The American people overwhelmingly support the medical use of marijuana. Thirteen States have medical marijuana laws and several more are currently working on medical marijuana legislation.
In the last few months, I have responded to questions from high school students who are researching the medical use of marijuana in their classrooms. This is a far cry from the old “Reefer Madness” movie that was shown to us when I was a student. I thought that “Reefer Madness” was a funny movie, but many of my schoolmates took it seriously. There were very few marijuana users among students in the early ‘60s. It was easy to tell children that marijuana made people crazy when few of us knew anyone who used it. Now, it is easy for students to get marijuana and they know that “Reefer” does not make people “Mad” because of their personal experience. I hope my peers can now look back and see that they were deceived by a fear-based marijuana policy.
Oregon has had a medical marijuana law for ten years now. Our law has become a model for medical marijuana laws in other States, but it is far from perfect. The Oregon legislature is debating the issue of how to improve our law. The cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana must not be impeded by paranoid law enforcement that sees imaginary “wide-spread abuses” of our current law. Marijuana is a safe and effective medicine. It’s safer than aspirin. You can overdose on aspirin and bleed to death from abdominal ulcers, but marijuana is not toxic and cannot kill you. Even if you eat more marijuana brownies than you should, you will just get ‘couch lock’ and then go to sleep. Patients who use medical marijuana do not get intoxicated. They titrate their dosage to obtain the desired therapeutic effect and then stop.
In a recent forum on “The Politics and Science of Medical Marijuana”, Dr. Robert DuPont made a claim that marijuana is a leading cause of auto accident deaths in this country. Dr. Donald Abrams immediately interrupted and said that was totally ridiculous and that people drive better. The fear-based thinking that Dr. DuPont presents will not be tolerated anymore. President Obama recently said in his Scientific Integrity memorandum, “The public must be able to trust the science and scientific process informing public policy decisions.” When respected authorities such as Dr. DuPont make false claims about marijuana, they lose the public trust.
As national director of the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis I speak for hundreds of thousands of people who use medical marijuana. We are tired of being treated like criminals!!! We are tired of being called scammers. We demand the freedom to grow and use Cannabis without the threat of criminal sanctions.
We must now end the use of police and law enforcement in our marijuana policy. There is no reason to treat marijuana as a criminal offense. The fact that marijuana is a plant and not a pill makes it different than most medicines. Herbal remedies do work. Echinacea, Ginseng, St. John’s Wart and chicken soup all have medicinal value. We cannot deny the truth that medical marijuana works. We cannot deny the truth that marijuana prohibition is a cruel policy. Not only is marijuana prohibition cruel to patients who need it for medicine, it denies marijuana growers the freedom to participate in normal businesses. Marijuana prohibition creates a criminal marketplace that threatens the stability of our communities.
We must have legal access to medical marijuana. The current caregiver grower model does not give us access to medical marijuana; it only allows patients to grow their own. Waiting months for your plants to mature doesn’t help people who need it today. And patients who can’t grow it themselves or find a caregiver to grow it for them, are forced to buy it from a criminal marketplace.
To end the prohibition of marijuana, we must eliminate laws that were created for political, not scientific, reasons. We must remove marijuana from the ‘No Medical Use’ Schedule 1 list in the Controlled Substances Act. We must trust the people who love to grow plants and allow them to freely grow medical marijuana. Not only will we stop wasting our time and money on laws we don’t need, we will stop supporting the violent people who depend on those laws to finance war.
As we celebrate Medical Marijuana Awareness Week, we demand the freedom the founders of this country had to grow and use marijuana. Let freedom grow!