Myths About Medical Marijuana
By Dr. Joycelyn Elders
Source: Providence Journal

Little Rock -- The Rhode Island General Assembly is now considering legislation to permit the medical use of marijuana by seriously ill patients whose physicians have recommended it.

This sensible, humane bill deserves swift passage. The evidence is overwhelming that marijuana can relieve certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms caused by such illnesses as multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS -- or by the harsh drugs sometimes used to treat them. And it can do so with remarkable safety. Indeed, marijuana is less toxic than many of the drugs that physicians prescribe every day.

But right now, Rhode Island law subjects seriously ill patients to the threat of arrest and jail for simply trying to relieve some of their misery. There is no good reason that sick people should face such treatment.

Still, foes of the medical-marijuana bill keep raising objections. So let's look at their arguments, one by one:

"There is no evidence that marijuana is a medicine." The truth: The medical literature on marijuana goes back 5,000 years. In a 1999 study commissioned by the White House, the Institute of Medicine reported, "nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety . . . all can be mitigated by marijuana." In its April 2003 issue, the British medical journal The Lancet reported that marijuana relieves pain in virtually every test that scientists use to measure pain relief.

"The medical community doesn't support this; just a bunch of drug legalizers do." The truth: Numerous medical and public-health organizations support legal access to medical marijuana. National groups include the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association. Regional groups include the New York State Association of County Health Officials, the California Medical Association and the Rhode Island Medical Society.

I know of no medical group that believes that jailing sick and dying people is good for them.

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Complete Article: http://www.freedomtoexhale.com/elders.htm

Source: Providence Journal, The (RI)
Author: Dr. Joycelyn Elders
Published: Friday, March 26, 2004
Copyright: 2004 The Providence Journal Company
Contact: letters@projo.com
Website: http://www.projo.com/