The good news first: 80% of Americans now support medical marijuana. This is a decisive percentage of people and makes change inevitable. But what about the other 20%? That’s millions of Americans who continue to oppose medical marijuana – despite the scientific findings and overwhelmingly positive testimonials of patients using cannabis as medicine. These people seem to fall into two categories:
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- They’re people who believe that marijuana is immoral and a sin.
- They’re people who believe marijuana isn’t really medicine at all.
That’s it. There is no one else left who opposes medical marijuana. And the trouble with these two arguments against cannabis is they are totally ludicrous. How is medical marijuana a sin? Surely the only real sin is not giving people medicine when it might ease their suffering? And as for marijuana not being a medicine: ask an epilepsy, cancer or MS patient if it’s really medicine. If they say it is medicine, then who are we to argue?
Up until a few years ago there were two other common arguments, both of which have been subsequently discredited:
- Smoking cannabis is bad for your health.
- Cannabis causes mental illness.
The anti-smoking argument is a straw man: with dispensaries across America now offering creams, pills, tinctures, inhalers and lip balms there is absolutely no reason to smoke cannabis for medical reasons. Besides, what doctor has ever recommended smoking anything for your health? It’s an appallingly inefficient and unhealthy delivery system for medicine.
The other common criticism about cannabis, up until recently and the growing awareness of cannabinoids, was that it caused mental health problems. To believe that is to make the crucial mistake of impugning the whole plant rather than considering specific compounds within the plant. One compound in cannabis – THC – can cause mental health problems – especially in the teenage brain – but when another compound, CBD, is sufficiently present the story changes radically. Rather than being damaging to our brain, cannabis becomes good for our brains. CBD contains neuroprotective properties that protect the brain. This aspect of CBD means we can expect to see it on the front line of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s treatment in the next decade.
Brushing aside these asinine and failed arguments against cannabis, the bottom line is this: when patients say they want to keep using a medicine because it’s working then the public – and politicians alike – must listen. What gives us the right to tell a sick or dying person what medicine they can take?
Obama, Cameron and the anti-medical marijuana groups are effectively saying to those patients suffering from cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, autism, epilepsy, fibromyalgia:
We think you’re all lying.
There are a few terms you could use to describe this behavior: but one of the more polite terms is “unethical”.
The politicians have been entrenched in their drug war ditches for so long they forgot who they’re supposed to be fighting for – and against – but now they need to remember that medical marijuana patients are not the enemy, they are just sick people needing medicine. And so the politicians needs to learn about cannabinods, they need to listen to medical marijuana patients, and they need to develop much more sophisticated, realistic ways of looking at this “drug problem”.
It wasn’t always this way – in fact until fairly recently politicians had it easy. They could say that cannabis was bad for you and in no way real medicine and no one raised an eyebrow. Most people held the image that medical marijuana was just for students pretending to be sick, and a few old hippies with bad backs. That negative image made it easy to disregard, not just for politicians but for the rest of us. Most parents tended to weigh up medical cannabis in this way: ultimately, it’s more important to keep marijuana away from our children than helping a few people in pain. It was harsh, but ultimately… family comes first.
Today, though, we’ve learned that the family first attitude only works up to a point. When the medical marijuana patients on TV aren’t suffering mild pain but hundreds of debilitating seizures a day or being treated for multiple sclerosis then we are forced to see it differently. Approving such a medicine is the only sane and compassionate option open to us. Today the public understand that – it’s time for politicians to catch up.