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Doctors, Not DEA, Should Determine Pot's Medical Benefits

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
On April 20 Dwight Holton, the United States attorney for Oregon, said in an interview that Oregon’s medical marijuana program is a “train wreck.” He went on to question the “need” of so many Oregonians to use medical marijuana. Holton’s remarks are at best irresponsible, and at worst are a harbinger of danger for tens of thousands of Oregonians as the Obama administration drifts away from its earlier position of not prosecuting medical marijuana users.

As a member of the advisory committee to the state’s Medical Marijuana Program, I can tell you that the program is highly efficient, overseeing the registration and distribution of cards to nearly 40,000 patients, their caregivers and their growers. The program typically contributes $1 million annually to our state’s general fund. Hardly a train wreck. Rather, its proficiency is a model of government effectiveness.

I understand the U.S. attorney’s criticism stems from the number of patients. What he and many other critics fail to recognize is that is due not to the law, but to the fact that more and more doctors are recognizing the medical benefits their patients receive from medical marijuana. The criticism really lies not with our agency, but with our physicians.

I doubt the U.S. attorney would claim to be qualified to call our physicians a train wreck. Yet this is typical of the lashings out from law enforcement. For reasons I fail to comprehend, there is a rising tide of sentiment against medical marijuana within the law enforcement community. For some reason, our state’s 12 years’ experience with medical marijuana has produced increased acceptance in the medical community, but increases rebellion from the law enforcement community.

Over these 12 years, we have learned that the benefits of medical marijuana are demonstrable, while the problems associated with medical marijuana are negligible.

Benefits include inexpensive health care for many, which is often a preferable form of care compared with the many prescription drugs these patients otherwise would be using.

The stark increase in the number of physicians authorizing their patients to use medical marijuana is evidence of these benefits — 3,890 physicians with 39,774 patients, or approximately one physician for every 10 patients. At a time of serious health care discussions in this country, with much of the debate centering on prescription drugs, here is a widely accepted means of improving health care while reducing costs.

The only problems ever mentioned involve the numbers — Holton and others say there are simply too many people using medical marijuana.

If that were the case, we certainly would experience some symptoms. However, we see no increase in emergency room visits, no increase in addictive behavior, no increase in criminal activity and no increase in abusive behavior from people using this medicine.

All these symptoms are seen with prescription medications. Indeed, statistics tell us that prescription drug addiction and abuse are becoming epidemic. In the end, other than succumbing to the wrath of law enforcement, there are no dangers from using medical marijuana.

I always have felt the better angels of our democracy are served when legislation is guided by science rather than by prejudice. Unfortunately, our emotional judgments tend to move our legislative endeavors.

At each legislative session, including the current one, law enforcement undertakes a strong lobbying effort against our program, decrying only, as Holton does, the numbers of participating patients.

The science underscoring this issue is politicized further when viewed through the efforts of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. Despite the many states that recognize medical marijuana, and despite the increasing number of physicians who recognize the benefits of medical marijuana, the DEA refuses to change marijuana’s classification as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. A Schedule 1 controlled substance is one for which there is no approved legal use, and the DEA has determined that marijuana has no medical benefit. That’s right — the DEA, a law enforcement agency, determines the medical efficacy of substances.

As a Schedule 1 controlled substance, marijuana cannot be tested at a university or other research facility without the express permission of the DEA. The DEA will not allow marijuana to be formally, scientifically studied to determine its medical benefits. That does not serve the better angels of our democracy. It is prejudice that dictates our legislation in this area.

I appeal to Holton to look to our better angels of democracy for guidance, not to the dictates of our lower selves.

Brian Michaels of Eugene is an attorney and a member of the Advisory Committee to the State’s Medical Marijuana Program.

• Thanks to Julie Gardener for submitting this article

NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: registerguard.com
Author: Brian Michaels
Copyright: 2011 The Register-Guard
Contact: feedback@registerguard.com
Website: GUEST VIEWPOINT: Doctors, not DEA, should determine pot
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Propa Gator

New Member
Holden knows what he wants to know, but why does he want to know it?
It's all about entrenched interest. Governmental programs buy huge volumns of pills from PIG Pharms who can afford $trong lobbies to assure the good times keep on rolling. That's one. Buttweiser might sell a few cans less, if a few tailgaters are gigglers instead of brawlers. That's two, and another drug cartel competetor. Tobacco cares, but has nearly left the house for fertile off-shore fields of prey. Cops are beaurocracies at every level, and they profit handsomely by the way things are.

Nobody benefits from cannabis except we the people, and we've been sold out.
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