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Monday, August 4, 2008

Print Email Font Resize Fears cloud marijuana legalization

As a registered nurse and the person pictured in the July 20 article "High emotions: Group backs medical marijuana," I am growing increasingly weary of the insulting attacks found in Kevin Sabet's July 24 guest commentary, "Public faces medical marijuana scam," which brand me as a miscreant and criminal simply because I am part of a team of health-care professionals who make the ancient medicinal herb marijuana available to patients in need.

At the THCF Medical Clinic, we treat patients with life-threatening ailments, such as Parkinson's and cancer, while others have life-disabling ailments such as chronic pain, insomnia, depression and hypertension.

They have all discovered that cannabis not only restores their health, but maintains it as well.

Even though a person would never consider going to a police station to obtain an opinion on the use of a medication, for some reason, pronouncements by professional anti-harm reduction warriors such as Sabet on the efficacy of medicinal marijuana are accepted as fact.

Let's check the facts.

Falsely claiming the 1999 study by the National Institute of Health opposes smoked marijuana, Sabet ignores the report's executive summary which concluded, "We acknowledge that there is no clear alternative for people suffering from chronic conditions that might be relieved by smoking marijuana, such as pain or AIDS wasting."

The Mayo Clinic does caution against smoking marijuana in an August 2006 article, but Sabet fails to report that the same article recognizes that marijuana provides effective relief for nausea, glaucoma, pain and multiple sclerosis.

Although it is true that the American Medical Association supports retaining marijuana in Schedule 1, the AMA recognizes the effectiveness of marijuana by calling for "the development of a smoke-free inhaled delivery system for marijuana."

Sabet's objection, like the Mayo Clinic's and the AMA's, seems to be not so much about marijuana as to smoking as the delivery system.

Marijuana can be applied as a balm and absorbed through the skin as is done by people with arthritis. The marijuana brownie is the classic example of ingestion through the digestive system. Available at every corner drugstore, marijuana tinctures were taken sublingually under the tongue as the preferred method of ingestion by your great-grandmother for insomnia, pain and a host of other ailments until marijuana became illegal in the 1930s.

Most notably, Sabet is silent on the use of a vaporizer delivery system.

Vaporizers heat marijuana to a temperature hot enough to cause marijuana's cannabinoid oils to evaporate, but not hot enough to cause the vegetative matter to ignite and burn, thereby providing a patient with all the therapeutic benefits of marijuana and none of the smoke.

The underlying fear that medical marijuana is the camel's nose under the tent of marijuana legalization permeates every word of Sabet's article. This is graphically demonstrated by his red herring that some people might abuse the medical access of marijuana. There is no demand for the prohibition of prescription pharmaceuticals even though people die from their abuse.

No one has ever died from using marijuana.

Sabet objects to the text of Proposition 215 which allows marijuana to be used for "any illness for which marijuana provides relief." He believes patients should take Vicodin or Percocet for pain with their debilitating side effects of constipation, respiratory distress, arrhythmias and liver toxicity rather than marijuana which has none of these life-threatening consequences. If a medicine works, it should be up to a doctor to decide if a patient should use it and not a government bureaucrat.

Showcasing Sabet's paranoid fear of legalization was his claim that "The Sun was scammed by the pro-legalization movement." Give The Sun some credit for being scam savvy. The real scam is being perpetuated by Sabet's organization, the Inland Valley Drug Free Community Coalition, which is so preoccupied with medical marijuana that it all but ignores the actually serious health threats to the community of methamphetamines, heroin, tobacco, alcohol and prescription drug abuse.

I have lost count of how many times I have respectfully asked the IVDFCC to participate in a public forum on medical marijuana, but they will not even give me the courtesy of a reply. No doubt they recognize our capability of not only revealing the fallacy of their arguments, but exposing them for being nothing more than government-paid shills protecting law enforcement's tax payer-funded, $20 billion-a-year marijuana prohibition full-employment program.

Mr. Sabet needs some educating. I invite him and his compatriots from the Inland Valley Drug Free Community Coalition along with readers of The Sun to attend my free seminar on The Anti-Aging and Health Benefits of Marijuana presented at 8 p.m. Fridays at the THCF Medical Clinic, 647 Main St., Riverside. More information can be obtained at www.thc-foundation.org/clinic or by calling (951) 782-9898.

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