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Medical Injustace


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Medical Injustice

USA - What if there were a natural medicine that could help reduce pain, relieve nausea, increase appetite and decrease stress, all with minimal side effects? What if it could help cancer patients deal with the impacts of chemotherapy, help glaucoma patients retain their sight by relieving pressure around the eyes, help AIDS sufferers maintain their strength by stimulating their appetites, and ease the effects of multiple sclerosis.

What if research of the drug, say by the prestigious Scripps Research Institute, demonstrated it slowed the progression of Alzheimer's Disease?

Not only does that medicine exist, it is abundant and affordable, even for those who lack health insurance.

So why don't more people take it (or at least admit publicly to doing so)? Because the federal government won't let them.

Marijuana has been outlawed since the 1930s when the Federal Bureau of Narcotics designated it a narcotic, putting it on par with cocaine, heroin and morphine.

Yet, 11 states – including Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont and most notably California – have legalized the use of marijuana as a treatment for disease. But the federal government refuses to acknowledge the state laws, instead specifically targeting law-abiding citizens providing the medicine for patients. Especially in California, the Drug Enforcement Agency is shutting down "grow houses" and medicinal marijuana dispensaries, and charging their operators with federal felonies.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) is trying to stop that injustice. He says the decision whether to allow the use of marijuana should be up to the states, not a federal mandate. Frank plans this week to file legislation decriminalizing on the federal level the possession of small amounts of marijuana. That would leave states like Rhode Island and California to allow patients to receive treatment without worrying about ending up in jail for following their doctors' orders.

"I don't think smoking marijuana should be a federal case. There's no federal law against mugging," Frank said. "It does not appear to me to be a law that society is serious about. It's one area where the public is ahead of the elected officials."

Not only is the federal government behind the times, it's hypocritical.

The Food and Drug Administration approves use of Marinol, which is a synthetic version of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Marinol is prescribed to treat nausea and vomiting for cancer patients and to stimulate the appetites of AIDS patients, according to the drug's Web site. But patients report it is not as effective as natural THC.

Marinol lacks several therapeutic benefits of natural cannabis and costs significantly more – upwards of $800 a month, compared with less than $100 a month for marijuana. Legalizing medicinal marijuana, which can be grown easily and inexpensively, would undoubtedly hurt the pharmaceutical companies that produce synthetic THC for profit, perhaps betraying the federal government's true motives behind the ban.

It is unfair for the federal government to continue prosecuting sick people whose states tell them they are legally treating the symptoms of their diseases. Granted, there are a myriad of issues involved in legalizing, or even decriminalizing, marijuana. But, those are issues that are more easily and appropriately hammered out at the state level.

Source: Herald News, The (Fall River, MA)
Copyright: 2008 The Herald News
Contact: editor@heraldnews.com
Website: Home - Fall River, MA - The Herald News
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