Puffing the Pain Away or Just Puffing… Legally
Marijuana, legally sold and taxed, might soon be reality in California — and we’re not talking strictly about medical marijuana.
The L.A. Times reports that an initiative to legalize marijuana will appear on the November ballot. The initiative calls for allowing adults 21 or older to possess up to one ounce for personal use, or to grow up to 25 square feet of marijuana per residence or parcel, and allows cities and counties to raise revenue through taxation of cultivation, transportation, and sale of marijuana. Budgetary concerns in California make this particularly appealing, but it is certainly not without opposition. Between now and November we can expect to hear interesting cases made both pro and con.
While it remains a federal crime to possess or sell marijuana, last year the Obama administration set new policy guidelines to cease action against medical marijuana users and suppliers who conform to state laws. This proposed legislation, should it pass, opens up a whole new can of worms in state law versus federal law.
In many other states around the country, the case for medical marijuana is still being debated.
Imagine living in chronic, severe pain, or with a debilitating condition that seriously impacted your quality of life. What if there was a source of temporary relief for your symptoms, but it was denied to you. Until you walk in those shoes, it is difficult to pass judgement on those who do.
The law, however, does pass judgement. Although marijuana has been reported to help people cope with a variety of chronic medical conditions, including multiple sclerosis, AIDS, cancer, and glaucoma, it is still illegal in many states in the U.S. and in many countries around the world, even for medical use.
Social stigma and stereotypes twist the issue into a moral argument rather than a purely medical one. Watch an evening of television and you’ll be bombarded with ads for powerful prescription medications with lengthy lists of potential side effects, including addiction and death, but they are not only legal… they are strongly encouraged by physicians, through advertising and celebrity endorsements, and often paid for by health insurers.
Patients report that use of medical marijuana provides relief from spasticity, nerve pain, tremors, sleeping disorders, nausea, and depression, greatly improving quality of life. For people living in chronic pain and discomfort, whether or not to use marijuana as medical treatment is a very personal decision, or at least it should be, and one that should not be criminal.
The United States is hanging on to antiquated notions of marijuana, steadfastly refusing to recognize its legitimate medical use… please sign the petition asking the U.S. Congress to recognize the benefits of medicinal cannabis.
As a person who has relapsing/remitting MS, I am very fortunate to still enjoy periods of remission that provide relief from symptoms. I have no need for marijuana or the regular use of any type of pain medication. However, having experienced extended periods of pain, discomfort, and a fair amount of disability, I have an inkling of how life might change should my MS run amok and become more aggressive, or if some other condition should rear its ugly head. It is a possibility I cannot dismiss.
When you discard the hypothetical exercise and think about it in terms of your own quality of life, your own day-to-day existence, marijuana, like any other prescribed medication, could be one more option for those who have few, if any. It’s a choice I hope I never have to make, but I’d sure like to know it’s there.
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