However, with that caveat in mind, the time has come to consider the positives of introducing some form of marijauna for medical use.
In 2003 almost five million people reported using opiate pain medication for "non medical purposes" according to a National Institute in Drug Addiction study. (In comparison, experts believe that two million people have a cocaine addiction.) Now this number has certainly A) risen sharply in the past six years and B) was underreported to begin with because a lot of people do not like admitting to this kind of behavior. Opiates include darvocet, percocet, oxycontin and other pills derived from opium.
For anyone, opium based drugs are highly physically addictive. All too many people have a predisposition towards addiction that makes them highly vulnerable to the "high" created by these medications. Mix a vulnerable person, physically or emotionally, with a highly concentrated opiate such as oxycontin and you are sure to get an addict nearly every time.
Enter marijuana. As a medication or social drug, marijuana has a much lower physical addiction rate. Certainly the high can create emotional dependence in many cases, but that is much easier to break than the physical dependence created by opiates. Marijuana when properly used has almost the same pain killing effect as most of the opiate drugs. Getting a similar benefit with a much lower rate of desperate addiction is a strong argument in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical use. As far as abuse is concerned, misuse and addiction to opiates is rampant already. Any measure that could stem the tide of normal people growing addicted in the course of taking a legitimate prescription is a bonus for society.
Medical marijuana gives us a potential alternative to the highly addictive opiates, but the problem does not stop there. We need to reign in some of these "pain clinics" that have as much concern for their patients as Mexican drug cartels do for their customers. Doctors that knowingly hand out pills to addicts for no real medical purpose at all need to be treated in the same manner as crack or meth dealers. Their degrees and nice clothes do not make them any better than any other drug dealer. Some highly addictive drugs need to be used only in cases of terminal illness or the most severe and debilitating conditions, the kind of real pain problems that would preclude a normal life anyway.
Medical marijuana is only part of the solution to runaway pain pill addiction in this country, but it is an important step towards keeping good people from sliding down that path in the first place.
One last thing. Those of you that support this and have rallies and meetings that end up on TV, here is a public relations hint. Get rid of the long hair and beards. Wear a button down shirt, maybe even a tie. It does not help the cause of medical marijuana to have on television the Jerry Garcia look alike contest. Now I used to have a lot of friends that looked like this, maybe still do. However, seeing these people wandering around in the background of TV coverage does not advance the movement. Not trying to be mean or discriminatory, but just take it as food for thought.