Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bad medicine

Posted on Thu, May 12, 2011 at 4:00 AM

I am writing to express my frustration with Senate Bill 423. Medical marijuana was legal, being prescribed by physicians to their patients who in turn purchased it from entrepreneurial souls with a green thumb. The cultivation of cannabis to achieve a pharmacological effect is fairly tricky and involves segregating plants by gender and restricting their pollination. My gardening skills and, I suspect, many people’s skills are not up to the task and probably never will be.

Cannabis is an effective analgesic and anti-emetic for many people and its propensity for stimulating an appetite is well known. While its concurrent use with mainstream psychotropic medication and psychopathology needs to be approached with caution, the physiological toxicity of THC is miniscule. By comparison, acetaminophen is the number-one over-the-counter drug of overdose. It competes with alcohol, a highly toxic psychotropic medication, for the same excretion route. Cannabis is no worse than many other drugs of choice and darn safer in many ways.

SB 423 is an attempt by legislators to give medical advice. Advice is a dangerous gift; medical advice even more so. Speaking as a medical professional, I have found successful medication management to have several recurring features: listening, humility, and fact. SB 423 hamstrings the feasibility of medical marijuana for most people and this shows a disregard for the voice of the body politic. Denying mentally competent people an effective medicine—that grows on trees—smacks of hubris.

Prohibition doesn’t work. It didn’t work in the Old Testament: God himself said don’t eat that apple and that didn’t work. The prohibition of alcohol by the 18th constitutional amendment didn’t work as evidenced by the 21st amendment that voided it. It has been my experience that most people, the majority, in the home environment, don’t take their medicines as directed. I wish it were otherwise, but if they have some semi-defensible reason for doing so and are not in immediate jeopardy then I respond with accurate information palatably presented. This helps some and does no harm. We can’t live people’s lives for them. I think that we as a people should be content if we can help some and do no harm. SB 423 is bad medicine and social injustice and we would be well served without it.

Brooke H. Stanley

Missoula

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