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Editorial | Yes on Question 3: medical marijuana

Published: Monday, November 5, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 06:11

On Election Day, Massachusetts has a chance to join 17 states and the District of Columbia by passing Question 3: legalization of the use of medical marijuana. We at the Daily recommend voting in favor of this measure.

The question, which is expected to pass, would be one of the more restrictive medical marijuana policies in the nation, limiting distribution to only patients with serious diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and a few other select, life−threatening and inhibiting diseases. Also included in the proposed law are restrictions on the number of dispensaries — which must be non−profit — and limits allotting only 60 days worth of cannabis per patient, all of which are regulated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. In addition, an ID system would be implemented, along with a number of laws preventing anyone with a history of drug abuse from dispensing.

While prescribed cannabis has not caused any recorded deaths, drugs prescribed in lieu of marijuana, such as anti−psychotics and ADHD−related medications, have led to 10,000 deaths over the last eight years, according to a study published by nonpartisan, nonprofit organization Procon.org. And these numbers only represent drugs for which we currently know cannabis can act as a replacement. Since there is a federal ban on research related of any sort of marijuana−related plants, there is no legal way for companies in the United States to efficiently discover the plant’s medicinal properties. Because so many people die every year of reactions and/or complications to FDA approved and commonly used medications, it makes sense to at least investigate the benefits of a substance that research has shown to have few immediately life−threatening properties. No lethal dose of marijuana for humans has been documented.

Currently, many studies uphold the effective properties of not only THC, but also of 108 other cannabinoids found in the plant, not to mention the 483 total compounds, many of which are unique to the species. But research of these compounds is illegal in the United States, although proponents of cannibus medicine claim that marijuana has a towering therapeutic index — the basic measuring unit for safety and effectiveness of a drug.

The main problem here is that opponents of Question 3 view marijuana as a drug in the recreational sense, and not as a drug in the pharmaceutical and medical sense. Even opponents of the drug, like the United States National Academy of Science, have observed and recognized its therapeutic abilities, which include mitigating nausea, helping patients eat and eliminating pain and anxiety.

Even disregarding the potential advances in medicine that could emerge from allowing marijuana to be researched, medical marijuana should be legalized for its currently known purposes. Question 3 deserves your vote on Nov. 6.

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