Medical Marijuana: What's the Point?

Hit & Run commenters sometimes express skepticism about the medical marijuana movement, saying either that it's a cover for people who want to get high or that it concedes too much by acknowledging the government's authority to dictate who may use which drugs for what purposes. Since the House of Representatives is expected to vote today on the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which would bar the DEA from spending money on raids, seizures, and arrests aimed at stopping the medical use of cannabis in states where it's legal, now is a good time to recall why this cause is important:

1) The basic right to control one's body and the substances that enter it surely includes the right to use marijuana (or any other home remedy) for symptom relief, even that is not all it includes.

2) The DEA's medical marijuana raids violate the Constitution, which gives states the authority to decide their own policies regarding intrastate production, sale, and consumption of marijuana. As Justice Clarence Thomas has noted, a reading of the Commerce Clause that's broad enough to encompass a marijuana plant on a cancer patient's windowsill in California is broad enough to encompass just about anything. More narrowly, it's hard to imagine how serious experiments with drug policy reform can occur as long as the federal government insists on imposing one uniform set of rules on the entire country.

3) Although the main use of marijuana in this country is recreational, the drug indisputably has medical applications, including relief of pain, nausea, and muscle spasms. Many patients find that smoked marijuana works better for them than the FDA-approved alternatives, including the synthetic THC capsule Marinol, largely because it acts instantly, allows easy dosage control, and does not require swallowing (and keeping down) a pill. Some report that oral THC, processed by the liver, has more disturbing psychoactive effects than THC absorbed into the bloodstream via the lungs. Consuming the whole plant also provides cannabinoids in addition to THC that may have a synergistic effect or provide independent benefits. (Here's a detailed comparison [PDF] of smoked marijuana and Marinol from The Oregon Medical Marijuana Guide.)

4) In addition to Marinol (whose approval by the FDA shows that  the government recognizes THC's medical utility), an oral cannabis spray, Sativex, is moving toward FDA approval. It seems likely that pharmaceutical companies also will eventually sell inhalers that deliver fast-acting, precise doses of THC and other useful cannabinoids without the potentially harmful combustion products associated with smoking (although patients already can avoid those toxins and carcinogens by using vaporizers). At that point, the medical argument for marijuana will evaporate. But patients who get relief from marijuana should not have to wait until then. (Some of them will no longer be alive.) Even after adequate pharmaceutical alternatives are available, some patients may prefer to grow their own, whether to save money or because they believe (rightly or wrongly) that whole-plant preparations are superior.

5) Even if medical marijuana is ultimately replaced by cannabinoid inhalers, the struggle to allow its use has undermined the credibility of drug warriors by revealing them as cruel fanatics and by showing that they grossly exaggerate the hazards posed by cannabis. When scientists consider the side effects of marijuana as a medicine, as the Institute of Medicine did in the 1999 report commissioned by Clinton administration drug czar Barry McCaffrey, they incidentally contradict the government's anti-pot propaganda, which in turn discredits other official warnings about drugs.

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  • ||

    We all know that smoking is bad for your health but not the Vaporizer. But we all can't afford $400 for a good one. So I vote to legalize cannabis for medical & personal use. In whatever way one choices to introduce it into their bloodstream.

  • D. Greene||

    Look, the DEA at this point is essentially a rogue agency, run by, as you so aptly put it, cruel fanatics. I cannot emphasize this enough. A single agent at the DEA has the almost totally unchecked power to ruin several people's lives, as was just demonstrated in that case in Cleveland. Sadly, one can rarely reason with a drug prohibitionist, as their arguments are based on bad data and most of all, on emotions.

  • ||

    However dangerous harder drugs are, and however violent users of other drugs are, it's indisputable that marijuana is less dangerous and it users are less violent (its sellers' violent nature is easily related completely to the drug war).

    Government propaganda to the contrary (including the laughable one where the dog asks his owner to not toke up) likely has little effect except eroding confidence of the youth in government. You wonder why 18-24 year olds vote in such small numbers? Because they disrespect the government for nonsense like this, and don't think that voting will bring in public officials who are less like their parents.

  • ||

    But it's a gateway drug!!!11!!

  • Episiarch||

    the struggle to allow its use has undermined the credibility of drug warriors by revealing them as cruel fanatics and by showing that they grossly exaggerate the hazards posed by cannabis

    This is a very important aspect of the whole situation. In the short term, the relief of people in pain is very important, but the long term battle is to stop the disastrous drug war. Successful medical use of cannabis will have a tremendous countereffect on public perception and DEA propaganda.

    If some person, who was completely brainwashed into "drugs are bad, mmmkay", had a sick loved one who received tremendous benefits from cannabis, I think that would change their way of thinking--a lot. So the more cannabis helps people (which is a good in its own right), the more it also improves public perception, and counters government lies.

  • Cindy Lou||

    concedes too much by acknowledging the government's authority to dictate who may use which drugs for what purposes.

    And they don't have taht right? It is up to the FDA and doctors, not individuals, to decide what is allowed.

  • Episiarch||

    And they don't have taht right? It is up to the FDA and doctors, not individuals, to decide what is allowed.

    So where in the Constitution is that right explicitly granted to them?

    You have heard of the Ninth Amendment, right?

  • ||

    But it's a gateway drug!!!11!!



    No, it's a gateway government credibility destroyer! If the government told the truth about marijuana, maybe we would believe them about mushrooms, or cocaine, or Al-Quaeda, or executive privilege, or global warming, or stem cell research, or... oh - never mind. This isn't working, is it?

    I guess I should take the other approach and consider that lies about pot were the governments "gateway lies" that led to all the others...

  • Cindy Lou||

    So where in the Constitution is that right explicitly granted to them?

    The commerce clause.

  • ||

    There's another reason, one that Eugene Volokh has blogged about: the legal concept of "medical self-defense." Basically, if your life is at stake, you have the right to do things you otherwise wouldn't be allowed to do. Shoot somebody, for example. Smoke pot, for another example.

  • Cindy Lou||

    The ninth and perhaps tenth ammendments are good in theory and perhaps made sense 200 years ago, but it is a different world now, they didn't have a war on drugs and war on terror that needed to be fought. Drugs are the financing of terror.

    We have a living constitution that must be reinterpreted with the times. This is precisely what the commerce clause is for.

  • Burt Gummer||

    I am not worried about cannabinoid inhalers. I am more worried about graboid inhalers. Little old lady got mutilated late last night, graboids of Perfection again.

  • Cindy Lou||

    Basically, if your life is at stake, you have the right to do things you otherwise wouldn't be allowed to do.

    Not if in violation of the social contract, sometimes an individual must suffer for the betterment of society. One individuals 'need' to get high is not worth a society of drug addicts that would result if the pot was legal.

  • ||

    I've been working too much lately and my sarcasm detector is off. Can't tell if Cindy Lou is related to Juanita and the rest of those related posters or if this is pure sarcasm. Assuming the latter.

  • D. Greene||

    People don't get 'addicted' to pot Cindy Lou. Sorry.

  • ||

    besides the fact the pharma is looking to capitalize on the non medicinal uses of pot.

    The real reason this is important is for the base fact that the PEOPLE voted for something to be allowed for legal use and the other PEOPLE who were voted into office by those same people requesting medical marijuana refuse to allow them to make it as such. So what you have in essence is a group all for democracy when it comes to them getting elected but then suddenly want nothing to do with democracy when the public votes in total opposition to their laws. If the people voting can not rebuke the pukes we call politicians and the government agencies they have created with a mass vote contrary to their law whats the fucking point of voting at all.

    To me its the fact that no matter how many people say its ok a select group can say its not and then send up to jail for not going along with their ideals. Forgetting the fact that my difference in ideals is of no consequence to anyone other than myself. If they are really that worried about my well being perhaps they should enquire about other aspects as well. I had a busted water pipe the other night, no one called concerned for me or my family.

    BS BS BS and more BS thats all you will ever get from the government that has jumped the drug shark so long ago now they are only still in business because they have unlimited funds to continue courtesy of all the tax payers they seek to restrict.

    Are drugs hard to get now? I don't think they are and they are illegal. So what about legalizing them will make them more available, I just don't get it. Since its not like anyone wanting to try a drug now can't simply because its illegal.

  • ||

    Yeah, but if sick people smoke weed they'll get high, and that's simply unacceptable. We must prosecute them for being high, because getting high is evil and stuff and the children may suffer somehow.

    PS: Cindy Lou, you're blowing your cover!

  • Episiarch||

    Dan T...I mean, Cindy Lou,

    Where exactly did I sign on to the "social contract"? Can you show me my signature, please?

  • Cindy Lou||

    Where exactly did I sign on to the "social contract"? Can you show me my signature, please?

    You implicitly signed it by being born.

  • Cindy Lou||

  • x,y||

    "The theory of an implicit social contract holds that by remaining in the territory controlled by some government, people give consent to be governed. This consent is what gives legitimacy to the government. Philosopher Roderick Long argues that this is a case of question begging, because the argument has to presuppose its conclusion:

    I think that the person who makes this argument is already assuming that the government has some legitimate jurisdiction over this territory. And then they say, well, now, anyone who is in the territory is therefore agreeing to the prevailing rules. But they're assuming the very thing they're trying to prove - namely that this jurisdiction over the territory is legitimate. If it's not, then the government is just one more group of people living in this broad general geographical territory. But I've got my property, and exactly what their arrangements are I don't know, but here I am in my property and they don't own it - at least they haven't given me any argument that they do - and so, the fact that I am living in 'this country' means I am living in a certain geographical region that they have certain pretensions over - but the question is whether those pretensions are legitimate. You can't assume it as a means to proving it. An answer to this argument is that a society which has effective dominion over a territory, that is, a state, is the sovereign over that territory, and therefore the true, legal owner of all of it. This is actually the theory of law for real property in every country. What individuals can own is not the land itself, but an estate in the land, that is, a transferrable right to use and exclude others from use. The true owner is the sovereign, or supreme lawmaking authority, because it can make and enforce laws that restrict what one can do on one's estate."

    From the same Wiki link (emphasis added) (cites omitted).

  • dhex||

    (including the laughable one where the dog asks his owner to not toke up)

    yeah i never understood that. it's like "so he's going to be really hungry and i get half his sandwich cause he's so happy, and then we're going to run around in circles for half an hour? sign me the fuck up!"

  • Episiarch||

    You implicitly signed it by being born.

    You can't implicitly sign contracts, and you especially can't do it at 1 millisecond of age.

  • ||

    You know, there's a great scene in Reefer Madness, where the frustrated government agent tells the principal that there's really nothing the feds can do about the evil weed, seeing as how it grows wild and there's really no interstate commerce involved. Ah, the good old days...

  • ||

    Want to stop drugs from financing terrorists? Legalize them.

    And stop giving billions to corrupt governments around the world simply because they promised to stop drugs.

  • ||

    """Not if in violation of the social contract, sometimes an individual must suffer for the betterment of society. One individuals 'need' to get high is not worth a society of drug addicts that would result if the pot was legal.""""

    This is a joke. Who judges what the betterment of society is? Government that has a long history of dishonesty and deceit, or society its self, which Cindy Lou claims is nothing but wanna be drug addicts?

  • ||

    Just so you know Cindy, social contract theory doesn't not prevent society from renegotiating the contract via their elected lawmakers.

  • ||

    """"Want to stop drugs from financing terrorists?""""

    Sadly, based in the way we are handling the Afghan poppy trade, we are not too interested.

  • Chart||

    I am not distressed roughly cannabinoid inhalers. I am more distressed virtually graboid inhalers. Runty old lady got maimed late last nox, graboids of Flawlessness again.

  • ||

    "Cindy Lou | July 25, 2007, 10:31am | #
    ...they didn't have a war on drugs and war on terror that needed to be fought. Drugs are the financing of terror."

    Oh, Cindy, Cindy, Cindy - your logic is circular. First, if terrorism is being funded by illegal MJ sales (which I kind-of doubt, but I have no evidence to prove it), then perhaps that in itself would be a valid reason for legalizing it... by removing the illicit (terror-funding) demand side.

    Cindy, please explain to us how someone growing a MJ plant or 2 for their own consumption... medical or recreational, will fund terrorism?

    Oh, please remember to keep this in the context of MJ, OK?

  • Cindy Lou||


    Cindy, please explain to us how someone growing a MJ plant or 2 for their own consumption... medical or recreational, will fund terrorism?


    Because it may encourage kids to use drugs, and may lead to harder stuff that does support terrorism.

  • D. Greene||

    You implicitly signed it by being born.

    Classic neoconservative troll - I encountered this one all the time when I was at Hillsdale College.

    Oh, and Cindy Lou/Edward/Eric Dondero: keep up the good work, you're keeping the debate lively and preventing groupthink, providing a valuable service to us all, and in the process, defending the homeland.

  • Copernicus||

    So the more cannabis helps people (which is a good in its own right), the more it also improves public perception, and counters government lies.

    I doubt it. People will just make one teeny tiny modification to their thinking: the government was wrong about pot but they're right about everything else.

  • ||

    "Cindy Lou | July 25, 2007, 3:00pm | #

    Cindy, please explain to us how someone growing a MJ plant or 2 for their own consumption... medical or recreational, will fund terrorism?

    Because it may encourage kids to use drugs, and may lead to harder stuff that does support terrorism."
    ----------
    WOW - that's surely an awful lot of speculation (MAY this, MAY that), Cindy... all pretty-much based on the frankly dubious assumption that MJ is a gateway drug.

    Perhaps we should also outlaw kaiser rolls with poppy seeds on them - because... Hey, you never know?

    I'd argue that kids will experiment with drugs if they are curious, or bored and lack solid adult role models... despite any Draconian laws @ the time.

    I believe we should leave the teaching of morality and good choice to the parent or guardian... let's leave the government out of that one.

  • Scooby||

    Does anyone else ever get the feeling we're all just subjects stuck in a big Milgram experiment?

  • ||

    The DEA is a rouge agency as someone put it and MACVS for your information the Gateway Drugs are Alcohol & Nicotine. Both have been proven to be more dangerous to the human body than Cannabis. This whole stigma on Cannabis will die a just death for it is nothing but propaganda, and the old fogey prohibitionist's will be voted out or they will die off and a new younger thinking mind that has not been brainwashed by the "Reefer Madness" day's will be in the senate and house and Cannabis will be legalized for medical & personal use. It can't be avoided for it is the will of the majority of the people. Government is FOR the people and BY the people, so the will of the people will be the deciding factor. Or should be, that's what America is all about. It is not supposed to be a police state or a state where the government does NOT do the will of the people.

  • Scooby||

    Failed again 165-262
    http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2007/roll733.xml

    How is this even controversial? I know that Congress is full of useless pieces of excrement, but do they have to prove it over and over and over again?

    Eltone,
    I had hope 20 years ago that once the WWII generation passed on and the baby boomers moved into power that marijuana would be decriminalized. That feeling didn't survive Bill Clinton claiming he "didn't inhale" in order to pander to the submorons that still believe the reefer madness propaganda.

  • ||

    Cindy's sarcasm is funny, but distracting. Let's get back to the point. Marijuana, like alcohol, tobacco, and firearms should be signs on a convenience store, not the names of heavily armed bureaucracies.

  • ||

    The Usa is fucked up, fake government, fake politicians, fake police, only time will change all this crap. Please read, gain some knowledge about the history of the place you living in, read about the CIA drug trafficking scheme to finance black ops, or about the biggest poppy crops in Afghanistan ever (2007) protected by US soldiers, read about the DuPont conspiracy to prohibit marijuana, or the so called "terrorist" from 9/11, the millions of dollars that CIA gave to Bin Laden when he was nothing (now he is dead by the way), or about Israel that is doing an Arab holocaust financed by USA (the reason why they blamed the Arabs and Islam for 9/11), the tons of depleted uranium that has been and still used in missiles at gulf war Iraq Afghanistan, shit if i gonna tell you all the sick things they done i'll better of righting a book!!

    Do you still think there aren't sufficient motives for the people in the middle east hate USA? If some other country invade yours to steal your country's natural sources (OIL), murder your people, let them to suffer with no hospitals, police, water or food wouldn't you hate them too?? think about it.

    Ok, know lets talk about pot: Pot is used since the beginning of the history of the planet, is one of the greatest plants in earth, like one guy said some day: "Imagine if they find a new plant inside the Amazon forest, that you can make food from it, clothes, medicine, fuel, paper, that does no harm to the planet, it could be the greatest discovery of the history right? This plant already has been discovered: it is called "Cannabis""

    Cannabis prohibition is becouse of the great companies interests, end of subject. Or you still believe that pot is evil? Your mind is already fuck-up (and you don't even smoke pot).
    Its like that: "how they can profit for something that people can grow in their own homes, that is medicine for thousand of health problems?" They can, so they prohibit, and let people to suffer with some chemical medicine that do not work, but let them richer and richer. its the sickest thing to arrest medicinal users when they NEED IT to be well, how you will arrest somebody becouse he use the medicine that he needs? whats the point for Christ sake.


    I'm glad to live in Brazil, at the better state of all (RS) where people are open minded, police is defending the interests of the people, they got heart, about the weed they even say they don't care about it! One cop stopped me while i was smoking (yes i do) in the street and he said to smoke elsewhere hidden, becouse people that don't like it are calling to complain, but he personally don't care, he just need to answer the call from the central, he said he is better off chasing crack head thief's of some drunk drivers that are putting in danger other peoples lives, not some guys smoking their pot that aren't doing any bad for anyone. How amazing is that?

    But now in the US its like that: "GET ON THE GROUND" And taser your ass, am i lying? Trow the dogs at you this kind of shit, the real example of a POLICE STATE. I rather live humility, with no plasma screens, no $100,000 SUV or this kind of stuff, and be able to smoke my weed with no fear, live with some relative freedom in a beautiful place, than live in constant paranoia in the "land of the free" aka USA.

    When people that i know who live in the US say that some guys go to JAIL for smoking pot i cannot believe them, why they do that? whats the point? he is committing a crime against who? think about it.

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