Andrew Pazdon: Marijuana should be a medicine

If my 93-year-old grandmother lived in a state where medical marijuana wasn’t verboten, she would be able to use medical marijuana to help with her glaucoma and her chronic arthritis. My father told me this not that long ago because of pending legislation in the New Hampshire General Court. Apparently, when he told my grandmother this fun factoid, she asked about the delivery method for this new-fangled medical cannabis. He responded that he had heard that back in the day, circa the late ’60’s, hippy hoodlums would bake their dope into brownies, consume and wait for the effects. So, he suggested she could bake her medical marijuana into her much-loved cinnamon rolls and enjoy with breakfast. I immediately looked up two things: her recipe for cinnamon rolls and what medical marijuana is used to treat.

Unfortunately for my grandmother, the bill to legalize medical marijuana was narrowly defeated in the New Hampshire General Court. All jesting aside, I really do mean it when I use the word “unfortunately” to describe the situation in not only New Hampshire, but in all other states that have yet to realize the potential net positives that stem from the legalization of medicinal forms of marijuana.

The D.C. Council, in a moment of unconventional wisdom a few weeks ago, became the newest torchbearer in the fight for the legalization of medical marijuana. A bill that is supported by a majority of the council, according to the Washington Post, was recently proposed and awaits a formal vote and then a signature by Mayor Adrian Fenty. No doubt this act of sensibility will be confronted with plenty of baseless, partisan and obfuscatory hoopla.

Cross-country campaigns to legalize medical marijuana are not wholly initiatives that are gateways to the full legalization of marijuana for recreational use. The proposed legislation stipulates that medical marijuana is to only be used for “chronic or long-lasting, debilitating… intractable pain which does not respond to ordinary medical or surgical measures.”

Studies from Columbia University and the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine have shown cannabis to substantially aid in the coping with HIV/AIDS. Researchers from Harvard and the University of Madrid have shown cannabis to help the retardation of cancerous cells. Cannabis has also been suggested the world over as a non-addictive alternative to opioids. In this way, cannabis can solidly be considered a miracle drug for those who are afflicted with chronic pain and suffering.

The American Medical Association recently joined its colleagues in the American College of Physicians, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Nurses Association, and other organizations in calling on marijuana to be classified as a legitimate medicine and not as an illicit drug.

It is quite contradictory for us as a country to keep drug dispensaries on nearly every corner fully stocked with all sorts of nasty, side-effect-ridden and potentially fatal, dangerous drugs, while summarily excluding marijuana for unknown, if not purely political, reasons. Our very own Drug Enforcement Administration reports that prescription drugs are abused almost as much as the illegal marijuana. Yet somehow, in our infinite wisdom, we find it completely acceptable to continue to dispense narcotics while simultaneously blocking the use of medical marijuana.

I doubt many of my peers at GW are suddenly going to develop arthritis, glaucoma or severe chronic pain so they can use the medical marijuana dispensaries. It will be treated like any other drug that is used to help our fellow citizens cope with their ailments. This is not going to induce more illicit drug use or ruin the pinnacle of society.

I unequivocally applaud D.C.’s government for charging through and casting off the hypocrisy. Let our physicians practice medicine the way they see fit and let them have every tool at their disposal to help their patients through their darkest hours.

The writer, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

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