There currently exists controversy concerning smoking marijuana as a medicine. Many well-intentioned leaders and members of the public have been misled, by the well-financed and organized pro-drug legalization lobby, into believing there is merit to their argument that smoking marijuana is a safe and effective medicine. A review of the scientific research, expert medical testimony, and government agency findings show this to be erroneous. There is no justification for using marijuana as medicine. The California Narcotics Officers’ Association consists of over 7,000 criminal justice professionals who are dedicated to protecting the public from the devastating effects of substance abuse, whether cocaine, methamphetamine, or marijuana.
We have seen firsthand the debilitating and often tragic results, both psychologically and physically, for those who choose intoxication as part of their lifestyles. We have studied the medicinal use of marijuana issue, compiling information from medical experts to present to those we are sworn to protect. It is our firm belief that any movement that liberalizes or legalizes substance abuse laws would set us back to the days of the ’70s when we experienced this country’s worst drug problem and the subsequent consequences. In the ’80s, through the combined and concerted efforts of law enforcement and prevention and treatment professionals, illicit drug use was reduced by 50 percent. Teenagers graduating from the class of 1992 had a 50 percent lesser chance of using drugs than did those who graduated in the class of 1979.
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Substance abuse rises whenever public attitude is more tolerant towards drugs, such as when people say that they are safe and harmless. Other factors that contribute to a rise in use include increased availability, reduced risk with using or selling, and lower prices. In 1993, for the first time in 12 years of steady decline, illicit drug use rose and continues to climb. A major contributing factor is a message that drugs “aren’t so bad.” To counter this “just say yes” campaign, some feel compelled to provide the facts on the use of marijuana as medicine. These well-documented facts will prove beyond a doubt that marijuana is not a medicine. The movement to legitimize marijuana as medicine is not encouraged by the pharmaceutical companies, Federal Food and Drug Administration, health and medical associations of medical experts; but instead by groups such as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and the Drug Policy Foundation (DPF).
These organizations have little medical expertise and favor various forms of legalizing illicit drugs. A leader of the medicinal use of the marijuana movement, Dr. Lester Grinspoon, is an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard, as well as a board member of NORML. He has made absurd claims, such as marijuana, like aspirin, is “unusually safe”; using cocaine two or three times a week “creates no serious problems”; and “chronic cocaine abuse usually does not appear as a medical problem.” He wrote a book called “Marihuana: The Forbidden Medicine,” which is the bible for pro-marijuana advocates. The studies cited by the marijuana advocates have been found to be either unscientific, poorly researched, or involving pharmaceutical THC, not marijuana. One of the “experts” who testified at the 1987 federal hearings to reschedule marijuana was a wellness counselor at a health spa, who admitted under oath to using every illegal mind-altering drug he ever studied.
Another “expert” admitted he had not kept up new medical or scientific information on marijuana for over 18 years. Another doctor claimed there was voluminous medical research on the effectiveness of marijuana, but under oath, when asked to cite the number of the studies, he replied “I would doubt very few.” The fact is that there is not one reliable scientific study that shows marijuana to be a safe and effective drug. The majority of the marijuana advocates’ “evidence” comes from unscientific, non-scrutinized, or analyzed anecdotal statements from people with a variety of illnesses. It is unknown whether these individuals used marijuana prior to their illnesses or are using marijuana in combination with other medicines. It is also unknown if they had a recent thorough medical exam or are justifying their use of marijuana, experiencing a placebo effect, or experiencing the intoxicating effect of smoking marijuana. The federal government, over the last twenty years involving a number of administrations from both political parties, has determined that smoking marijuana has no redeeming medicinal value and is in fact harmful to health.
These governmental agencies include the Drug Enforcement Administration and the US Public Health Service. Their latest finding, as recently as 1994, was affirmed in a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. Since the pro-marijuana lobby has been unsuccessful in dealing with the federal government, they have targeted state and local governments to legitimize smoking marijuana as a medicine. A careful examination of their legislative and/or ballot proposals reveals they are written to effectively neutralize enforcing most marijuana laws. Crude, intoxicating marijuana, under their proposals, would be easier to obtain and use than even the most harmless, low-level prescription drug. Major medical and health organizations, as well as the vast majority of nationally recognized expert medical doctors, scientists, and researchers, have concluded that smoking marijuana is not safe and effective medicine.
These organizations include the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, the National Multiple Sclerosis Association, the American Glaucoma Association, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute of Dental Research, and the National Institute on Allergy and Infectious Diseases. There are over 1,000 studies available documenting the harmful physical effects and psychological effects of smoking marijuana. The harmful consequences include, but are not limited to, premature cancer; addiction; coordination and perception impairment; and a number of mental disorders, including depression, hostility, increased aggressiveness, general apathy, memory loss, reproductive disabilities, impairment to the immune system, numerous airway injuries and other general problems associated with intoxication.
The medicinal marijuana movement and its media campaign have helped contribute to the changing attitude among this nation’s youth that marijuana is harmless, contributing to the increase of marijuana use among young people after twelve years of steady decline. The overriding objective behind this movement is to allow a minority (less than five percent) of our society to get “Stoned” with impunity. This small minority is willing to put American citizens at risk from all the negative and disastrous effects caused to and by those who are intoxicated. What we don’t need in this society is more intoxicated people on our highways, in workplaces, in schools, in college, or in our homes.