Rx for THC

Marijuana has been cultivated and used by humans for thousands of years. Evidence suggesting its use more than 5,000 years ago in what is now Romania has been described extensively.[1] Burned cannabis seeds have been found in the graves of shamans in China and Siberia from 500 BC.[2] People across the earth have used cannabis to create textiles such as rope and fabric, and for its medicinal and psychoactive properties. It is a recent phenomenon that marijuana has been socially decried as a substance akin to drugs such as heroin, ecstasy, and methamphetamine.[3]

            In fact, marijuana is often prescribed to help people control pain, bring back their appetite as a result of chemotherapy or other treatments, treat insomnia, and lessen tremors for people suffering from Parkinson’s disease.[4] It is proven to be safer than other psychoactive substances, particularly opiates that are prescribed to people suffering from diseases such as cancer, epilepsy, or Parkinson’s.[5] Time and time again science has proven that the negative effects of marijuana are merely a result of the social conditioning carried out by governments across the world.  Every day people successfully use marijuana in a medical context to assist them in healing or managing their diseases or conditions.

            Social stigma continues to deprive sick people of medical marijuana. Currently in Minnesota, the conditions that qualify for prescribed marijuana include cancer, HIV/AIDS, terminal illness with a prognosis of less than one year, PTSD, and autism, to name a few.[6] Minnesota should expand the list of qualifying conditions based on the research that shows there are countless other conditions that should qualify persons for medical marijuana.  Other states are already moving in the right direction with respect to this topic. In Illinois, for example, the state legislature voted in 2019 to expand the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana to include anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, and anorexia nervosa.[7] Minnesota should follow suit because the evidence shows that these conditions are managed by marijuana either more effectively or equally as effectively when compared with traditional medicinal drugs.[8] The science shows that what we consider modern traditional medicine can be assisted or even replaced by old-school traditional medicine, marijuana.

[1] Mary Barna Bridgeman, PharmD, BCPS, BCGP and Daniel T. Abazia, PharmD, BCPS, CPE, Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology, And Implications for the Acute Care Setting, US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (Last visited November 19th, 2020) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5312634/.

[1] Marijuana, History.com (Last visited November 19, 2020) https://www.history.com/topics/crime/history-of-marijuana.

[1] Drug Schedules, United States Drug Enforcement Administration (Last visited November 19, 2020) https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling.

[1] Peter Grinspoon, MD, Marijuana, Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School (Last visited November 19, 2020) https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/medical-marijuana-2018011513085.

[1] Id.

[1] Medical Cannabis Qualifying Conditions, Minnesota Department of Health (Last visited November 19, 2020) https://www.health.state.mn.us/people/cannabis/patients/conditions.html.

[1] Illinois medical marijuana: New qualifying conditions added as program becomes permanent, ABC 7 Eyewitness News (Last visited November 19, 2020) https://abc7chicago.com/medical-marijuana-illinois-card-dispensary/5373720/.

[1] Supra, fn 1.

Lessons from Prohibition: Legalize Marijuana Now

On October 30, 2020, our seminar had the pleasure of speaking with a representative of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Minnesota (SAM-MN),[1] Kim Bemis, who is also the founder of Gobi, a program that helps concerned parents of children who use drugs and alcohol. The talking points against legalization included the belief that no psychoactive substance is safe, there are projected increased healthcare costs with increased marijuana usage as a result of legalization, alleged connections between increased mental illness and physical and mental disability and marijuana usage, and concern with there being no option for cities or counties to opt out of having distribution centers in the current proposed bill in the Minnesota House for marijuana legalization of recreational adult-use.[2]

In response, classmates brought up ideas like protecting individual rights, the lack of medical evidence of negative effects of marijuana on the body, and positive outcomes in states that have legalized marijuana, which were met largely with silence or deflection. This experience was valuable in that hearing both sides of an argument is important to being informed and attempting to work together towards a common goal, but it was also concerning because it seems that the general opinion of those against marijuana legalization has not shifted from the effects of anti-marijuana propaganda of the 20th century, including films like “Reefer Madness”[1] and the War on Drugs, which disproportionately negatively impacts Black Americans as a result of over-policing and systematic racism,[2] a topic that was notably not addressed at all by Mr. Bemis. Part of Mr. Bemis’ argument against the legalization of marijuana was inspired by the American Prohibition (of alcohol), moreover, which I referenced in my last blog post and discussed how it was a massive failure, but somehow in groups against the legalization of marijuana is seen as a massive success.

Though there are some valid points on the other side, including concerns about driving while impaired, it seems that there is a disconnect in the facts between the proponents and opponents of the legalization of marijuana, especially considering that the arguments against marijuana could be applied to several currently legal substances, most notably alcohol, which is proven to have adverse health effects yet does not have the same movement for criminalization. In the end, I believe that the only way for both sides of the argument to reach a consensus is going be to conducting good research on the effects of marijuana and presenting arguments rooted in facts, not fear.