More MS news articles for April 2001

Medical marijuana benefits the state

Updated 12:00 PM ET April 10, 2001
Staff Editorial
Minnesota Daily
U. Minnesota

(U-WIRE) MINNEAPOLIS -- The state of Minnesota is taking brave strides in the search to relieve pain and suffering. Marijuana has been recognized in eight other states as being successful in easing the pain of those who suffer from chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and in dealing with the excruciating side effects of cancer treatment such as nausea and lack of appetite.

Last Friday, the state departments of Public Safety and Health held a forum to discuss the merits of medical marijuana. The forum was held to boost support for a bill that would fund state research to study the merits of it. In attendance at the forum was Gov. Jesse Ventura, who has long been known as an advocate for the legalization of marijuana for medicinal uses. It is refreshing to see those holding government office are using common sense and are listening to patients' needs and requests regarding their treatment.

Many within the medical and scientific community recognize marijuana as having some medical merit. The substance would be of great relief to many ailing people. The side effects associated with marijuana use can be substantially less damaging than those of many widely prescribed, highly addictive prescription medications. The argument is not that marijuana is better than other forms of treatment. It is that the benefits of its use in treatment of various ailments are too substantial to be ignored. In light of these facts, an objective study on its effects would be a step in the right direction.

Many opponents of this legislation view the legalization of marijuana for medicinal use as nothing more than a ploy to move a step further toward recreational use. Opponents fail to recognize medical evidence and interest of both the scientific and medical communities, instead preferring to hold to old unsubstantiated biases. It is fortunate that now even government agencies are taking a sincere interest in this matter and recognizing the benefits for some of their constituents.

The positive medicinal aspects of marijuana are dismissed too quickly by those opposed to the drug for personal use. While total legalization of the drug is another debate entirely, all this legislation would permit is use of the drug for testing purposes. Using non-traditional sources, such as marijuana, as medicine has been gaining popularity for years. Many patients prefer to self-medicate rather than be plugged with tubes and pills, and that should be their choice. Medicinal marijuana has already shown significant promise in relieving pain in patients and could serve as a good alternative to prolonged hospital stays.

The speakers at Friday's forum are a glaring example of the success of marijuana for medicinal uses. Gaining more support for the medicinal legalization will hinge on these success cases. Supporters also must communicate to the public exactly who this bill is intended to help -- the sick and suffering. The support of Ventura is imperative for the ability of this research to go forward.

(C) 2001 Minnesota Daily via U-WIRE