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Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Use only

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The history of U.S. policy toward mind-altering substances has followed cycles of tolerance and intolerance ever since the mid-19th century. Walking into a smoked filled room, of young and old engaged in therapeutic activities for numerous health conditions, has been practice worldwide. In fact, the medical use of the cannabis plant goes back at least 5,000 years to ancient China. It was used by most of the world's cultures for its healing properties (Medical Marijuana Cases 1). Today such conditions as Migraine headaches, Glaucoma, Cancer, Epilepsy, Asthma AIDS/HIV, Spinal injury, Muscle spasms, Insomnia etc., could be treated for symptomatic relief with cannabis or cannabis extract. However, marijuana is still considered an illegal drug in most states in the United States.

Marijuana usage may have been common 20-30 years ago, but it really isn't any longer. Judy Foreman states that a hardy band of activists seeking legislative approval of perennial bill that would bring Massachusetts in line with 34 other states in letting patients with certain conditions smoke marijuana (1). 2 What was known, as the "wicked weed" of the sixties can be good medicine . Marijuana certainly seems safer than may other drugs, even aspirin that causes gastrointestinal bleeding, killing hundreds of people every year (Grinspoon/Bakalar 4).3 There are lots of drugs American society does not let people use except under doctor's care, for instance, cocaine, Demerol, est. No one

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thinks we have legalized cocaine because we let surgeon or anesthesiologists use it. Therefore, the notion that there is a link between medical use and whether people

should to be able to legally get stoned is nonsense. One situation does not necessarily include the other. Nevertheless, there has not been a single death by overdose (Foreman 4).2 As an enlightened society, we must reconsider the legalization of marijuana for medical use only as it eases pain and suffering of many illnesses.

To effect changing the attitudes within our society about marijuana, one must be realistic about the legislation of our own bodies. Right now cocaine and morphine are prescribed legally as medicines, and those legal uses are not adding in any significant way to the country drug problem. While experts debate the medical use of marijuana, patients in Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Alameda County are lining up at Cannabis Buyers' Club to receive the drug. Despite the coffee house atmosphere at the Cannabis Buyers' Club marijuana remains illegal. Although some chronically ill people and their physicians argue that the drug eases their pain and suffering, the question still is fiercely debated by law enforcement and the medical community (Donnelly 1-2).4 Modeled after underground pharmacies that provide AIDS patients with unapproved drugs, Buyer's Clubs have existed informally for at least 15 years. Nevertheless, whether there's a medical need still is debatable. On the other hand, officials at the U.S. Drugs Enforcement Administration insist there are few, if any therapeutic uses of marijuana. In fact, they point out smoking harms the lungs (Donnelly 3).4 The American Medical Association does not condone the

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use of marijuana, although it does support further stating that under the direction of a doctor may be appropriate for certain conditions (Donnelly 3).4 The media address the subject in a language that precludes rational debate: Crime related to drugs prohibition is systematically described as "drug related". Furthermore, most people seem to be deeply religiously committed to a medicalized view of life. Many take seriously the proposition that just into his head, it is also not its business what substance he puts into this body.

In a free society the government's duty is to protect individuals from others who might harm them. In 1980, there were almost twice as may violent offenders in federal prisons as drug offenders (Schlosser 91).5 Today there are far more people in federal prison for marijuana crimes than for violent crimes. More people are incarcerated in the nation's prisons for marijuana than manslaughter or rap (Schlosser 92).5 Attempts to reduce dangerous prison overcrowding have been disadvantaged by the nation's drug law. Across the country prisons are filled with nonviolent fenders who mandatory minimum sentences do not allow for parole. At the same time violent offenders are routinely being granted early release (Schlosser 92).5 For example, Eric Schlosser reports this incident:

Eight years ago Douglas Lamar Gray brought a pound of marijuana in a room at the Econo Lodge in Decatur, Alabama. He planned to keep a few ounces for himself and sell the rest to some friends. Gray was a Vietnam veteran with an artificial leg. As a young man, he'd been convicted of a number of petty crimes none serious enough to warrant a prison warrant. He had stayed out of trouble for thirteen years. He now owned his

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own business called Gray's Roofing and Remodeling Company. He had a home, a wife and a two-year-old son. The man who sold him the drug, Jimmy Wilcox was a felon just

released from prison with more than thirty convictions on his record. Wilcox was also an informer employed by the Morgan County Drug Task Force. The local sheriff's department, as part of a sting, had supplied the pound of marijuana. After paying Wilcox $900 for the pot, which seemed like a real bargain, Douglas Lamar Gray was arrested and charged with "trafficking in cannabis". He was trailed, convicted, fined $2500,00 sentenced to life in prison without parole, and sent to the maximum security penitentiary in Springville, Alabama an aging, overcrowded prison filled with murderers and other violent inmates. He remains there to this day (Schlosser 90).5 Perhaps the politicians real fear was that freedom to use soft drugs would automatically progress to increased use of substance such as cocaine and heroin. If so they must have overlooked the recent Dutch government review which pointed out that decriminalization or possession of soft drugs has not led to a rise in the use of hard drugs (Lancet 1).6 Studies revealed that almost a third of all violent offenders who are released from prison will be arrested for another violent crime within three years. No one knows how many violent crimes these inmates commented without ever being caught. According to a report from the Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice, Californians'



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