By Nina Morais
As it stands currently, 23 states and the District of Columbia have laws that legalize the use of marijuana in some manner. Some other states have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of the herb and permitted the use of medical marijuana by those who suffer from certain medical illnesses. Medical marijuana must be legalized promptly to ensure that the sick will benefit from its effects during their medical treatments. This controversial issue will be on the Florida ballot again in November of 2016.
Floridians will have the power to decide whether its use should be legal or not. If the law is passed, hundreds of thousands of sick and suffering individuals will see relief. Two years ago, a similar law failed to pass in the state of Florida with only 58 of the 60 percent votes necessary for approval, according to floridatoday.com. The amount of evidence proving how marijuana can relieve certain symptoms of multiple sclerosis, cancer and AIDS is overwhelming. Patients who have that marijuana helps make the pain and nausea significantly more bearable. For that reason, doctors should be allowed to prescribe this substance to their patients the same way they prescribe so many other drugs with greater risks of chemical dependency. Addiction to painkillers, according to doctors and rehabilitation experts, is one of the most difficult addictions to treat. In 2007, a painkiller called methadone was found to be the cause of death to nearly 800 individuals in Florida alone, according to drugfreeworld.org.
Marijuana only causes dependency in nine percent of its users; while tobacco and alcohol, which are legally commercialized, cause dependency in 32 and 15 percent of its users respectively, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science.
Also, marijuana is so much less toxic than most of the drugs physicians prescribe daily and can be consumed with a great deal of ease and safety. This is another great reason why people should not view it as so controversial and problematic. Physicians must have the right to prescribe it to patients in need without fearing the federal government will revoke their licenses. The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) should not be practicing medicine or have a say in what’s best for suffering patients– doctors should. I believe there is no question that if marijuana were any other drug, decisions regarding its medical use would be up to doctors and patients. Instead, the politics of the drug war intervene.
It shocks me how even though the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is responsible for protecting public health, they have failed to respond adequately to all the studies proving the benefits of medical marijuana by classifying it as a Schedule I drug. This means it is regarded as a substance with no acceptable medical use and has a high potential for abuse, according to dea.gov.
Additionally, the FDA has failed to make note of the Investigational New Drug Compassionate Access Program which allows patients with certain medical conditions to apply to the FDA to receive federal marijuana. The existence of this program perfectly illustrates how the FDA could allow for the legal use of a drug, such as medical marijuana, without going through the “well-controlled” series of steps that other drugs have to go through if there is a compassionate need.
A study in 2012 showed that people who started smoking marijuana heavily during their teenage years lost an average of six to eight IQ points between ages of 13 and 38, according to drugabuse.gov. Besides that, there is a popular myth about marijuana being a gateway drug. This means the use of less deleterious substances like weed can lead to future abuse of more dangerous and hard drugs. Evidence like this could be what makes people so averse to the idea of legalization. However, in a recent study published by Scientific Reports in which the potential death from the typical recreational use of 10 drugs, including alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, ecstasy, and cocaine were compared; marijuana was found to be by far the safest according to nature.com.
To this day, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana. If the legalization in Florida happens, the population may begin to reevaluate the current misconceptions regarding this powerful and curious drug.