|Photo: Ron Crumpton|
|Ron Crumpton: “The truth is that the war on marijuana is almost over; the stigma is gone.”|
From time to time, Toke of the Town reads something that helps to shore up our sometimes shaky faith in the possibility, at some time in the future, of sane marijuana laws in the United States. Now and again, we see a piece of writing on the Web that makes us say, “Yeah! Things are going to be just fine.”
|Photo: Alabama Compassionate Care|
|From left, Penny Ingram Vaughan, Brandon Ingram, Thomas Pearson and other members of Alabamians for Compassionate Care march February 13 in Birmingham|
Legalization For Medication
By Ron Crumpton
On Saturday, members of Alabamians for Compassionate Care — a group that supports the use and legalization of medical marijuana — marched from Caldwell Park to the fountain at Five Points West, Southside Birmingham.
They were there to support the Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act. They expect the bill will be introduced to the Alabama Legislature some time in March. It is modeled after the laws that are in effect in 14 other states and the District of Columbia, and it would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients who suffer from seizures, have chronic pain or have been diagnosed with cancer.
It is beyond reason that people would seek to deny a person medicine that would help them with their ailment, especially when there is absolutely no reason for them to do so.
Marijuana has been used as a medicine for centuries. The people of India have been using ganja (its Indian name) since the 11th century to treat headaches, muscle spasms, chronic pain and more. Native Americans used it for mental illness, and it was the staple in most of their herbal recipes for the cold and flu, childbirth and relaxing wounded warriors as well as easing their pain. Even Queen Victoria of England smoked marijuana to lessen the effects of menstrual cramps.
Now I can tell you from personal experience that it works not only for chronic pain, but also for the other ailments that chronic pain creates. For 16 years, I have suffered from chronic low back pain, sciatic nerve pain in my right leg and muscle spasms in my back and buttocks.
The modern medical establishment chooses to treat a condition like this in one of two ways: first, they will do nothing, and you just have to deal with the pain, or they put you on narcotic pain pills like Percocet and strong muscle relaxants like Robaxin or Valium.
Neither of these is acceptable. The combination of 30 to 40 mg of Percocet with 3,000 mg of Robaxin causes depression, respiratory depression, anaphylactic reaction, allergic reaction, malaise, asthenia, fatigue, chest pain, fever, hypothermia, thirst, headache, increased sweating, hypertension, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, amnesia, confusion, insomnia and seizures.
Considering that marijuana usually helps more, and your biggest worry is that you are going to drink a gallon of milk and eat three bags of Oreos: which would you rather take?
Now granted, marijuana has more side effects than that. According to familydoctor.org, the primary side effects of marijuana are slowed reaction time, difficulty concentrating, sleeplessness, anxiety, paranoia, altered time perception, tremors, nausea, headaches, decreased coordination, breathing problems, increased appetite and reduced blood flow to the brain.
I think most reasonable people would agree that if you could choose between the side effects of narcotics and the side effects of marijuana, pot is the way to go.
Furthermore, with commercially grown marijuana you would be able to accurately measure the level of cannabinoids. Marijuana high in cannabinoids, also known as giggle weed, creates a euphoria that can aid in dealing with the depression and anxiety that so often comes with chronic pain.
When you have chronic pain you have to stay physically strong, you cannot allow yourself to weaken because chronic pain is one of those conditions that if you do not fight it, you will succumb to it and essentially give in.
The problem is that when you are in pain you usually do not want to eat, and this can cause you to deteriorate physically. That is where the gallon of milk and three bags of Oreos come in handy.
I cannot personally testify to its affects on seizures and cancer. I do not suffer from those ailments. However, there are many more ailments, other than the ones that we have mentioned, that patients say is helped more by marijuana than by prescription drugs.
It helps conditions such as migraines, digestive diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia and dozens more. Recent studies show that it slows the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, reduces the chances of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and helps reduce the tremors and muscle rigidity associated with Parkinson’s disease.
So the question is not “Why should medical marijuana be legal?” The question should be “Why in the world is it not legal already?”
Marijuana is the closest thing out there to a miracle drug because there are few if any other drugs that can be used to treat so many different ailments.
The problem, like with so many things in society, is that it has been deemed unacceptable by a small number of the population, so they start the propaganda machines. They go to the conservative press and church organizations, and they poison the minds of the public with half-truths and outright lies.
Propaganda such as Reefer Madness, Assassin of Youth posters and comics and articles published by people like William Randolph Hearst, whose articles claimed smoking pot caused young black men to commit murder, polluted the minds of the public in the early 20th century.
The reasons that marijuana should be legal are too many to list, but we will list a few.
First, there is no reason to for Americans to suffer when there is a remedy that will help them with their ailment, especially when that remedy has fewer and less dangerous side effects than the drugs that doctors prescribe and does a better job. It could be argued that pot has fewer side effects than Extra Strength Tylenol. There is no argument that it has fewer side effects than narcotic pain medication, NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and high-powered muscle relaxants.
Second, through the proper legal and regulated growth and sell of marijuana it can be far less expensive than the cost of the drugs that it replaces. Marijuana is relatively inexpensive, but if it were grown legally and treated like a legal drug, the cost of production would drop. As it is now, the price is inflated due to the risk that people take and the cost of smuggling.
Third, in a free country there is no reason for it to be illegal to anyone in the first place. It is one thing to pass laws regarding its use — not smoking it in a public place, for example. However, what someone does in his or her own home that does not harm society is not society’s business.
Fourth, the truth is that there is a big lobby fighting the legalization of marijuana. Do you think that Budweiser wants Bud to be legal; do you think Jack Daniels does? No, they sell far more harmful substances that anyone over the age of 21 can pick up at almost any convenience or liquor store.
Fifth, we have been fighting and losing a drug war for longer than any of us can remember, and a large reason that we are losing is marijuana. If this relatively safe substance were legal, it would remove more than half of the problem. This would allow the drug agencies to focus on real drugs like methamphetamines, cocaine and heroin, and then we could finally make some progress towards taking these dangerous drugs of the streets.
Sixth, everyone needs an excuse for drinking a gallon of milk and eating three bags of Oreos.
Finally, for those of you that say it would make it easier for children to get their hands on marijuana, that is just BS or stupidity. When I was in high school, it was easier to buy unregulated marijuana — I could usually find a bag between the front of the door of the school and my locker –than it was to buy a regulated bottle of Jack Daniels. Dope dealers do not check IDs.
The truth is that the war on marijuana is almost over; the stigma is gone. The lies about it have been largely disproven, and there has been so much research done on cannabis that the anti-pot establishment is finding it hard to pass off new lies about it.
For that reason, the legalization of marijuana will happen sometime in the not so distant future.
The question is: should we deny people medical marijuana now when we know it is eventually going to be legal for all?