District residents will decide next month whether to allow the medicinal use of marijuana in city hospitals. If Initiative 59 passes Nov. 3, marijuana would be prescribed to patients who are receiving treatment for cancer, AIDS and other terminal diseases. Officials at GW Hospital said the facility will provide marijuana to patients if the initiative is approved. Voters who go to the polls in November should support Initiative 59.
Prescribing marijuana for the treatment of cancer and AIDS is a relatively easy way to improve patients’ quality of life. Medicinal marijuana reduces the nausea that results from chemotherapy sessions. It also induces hunger in people whose appetites have been ruined by treatments. And it lessens the pain brought on by illnesses and treatments. For patients who suffer from a serious disease, the use medicinal marijuana could lessen the physical discomfort.
Medicinal marijuana prescriptions should not be abused. Strict guidelines must be developed to prevent the unnecessary use of marijuana prescriptions. Likewise, the physicians and institutions who are licensed to prescribe marijuana must be screened carefully to avoid improper dispensation of the drug.
Using marijuana outside of medicinal purposes remains illegal. But for those patients whose lives will be made a little easier, access to medicine that can take away some of the pain deserves the public’s support. District residents should vote for Initiative 59 Nov. 3.