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Editorial Board

Cannabis-based medicines aren’t so bad

A new oral spray was recently approved for use in Canada to help combat one of the most painful and debilitating diseases: multiple sclerosis. Its main ingredient has been raved about by sufferers of MS as one of the few medicines that are able to alleviate their intense pain. This ingredient is cannabis.

The United States needs to take Canada’s lead and allow this drug to be used — at the minimum — for medical purposes. It’s a well-known fact that many terminally ill patients use marijuana illegally to help augment the pain associated with many conditions. If it works, why aren’t we allowing these patients to reduce their suffering?

While there are many negative connotations associated with cannabis, it is one of the few completely natural remedies we have available to us. It’s not something like crystal meth that has to be secretly concocted in a makeshift basement “laboratory”; this is a naturally occurring drug, just like caffeine. The fact that the U.S. government refuses to give it credit is completely ignorant. Basing decisions on stereotypes instead of scientific evidence is doing this country a disservice.

An argument against cannabis-based drugs would be that the user could become dependent on the drugs or could sell them on the black market. If one looks at what kinds of drugs are typically prescribed for the intense pain of MS victims — morphine, codeine and OxyContin — it is a wonder why the government is so uptight about marijuana. If they’re worried about patients selling their medicines on the black market, they should be more worried about them selling drugs such as OxyContin.

A 2003 study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed that 46.1 percent of high school seniors have tried marijuana at least once. If nearly half of 12th graders have access to and have used marijuana, then there shouldn’t be a fuss about someone with chronic pain obtaining the drug legally.

If the government was the one regulating the drug, at least it could guarantee that a given dose is safe for someone to use. If so many people are using it anyway, the government is doing its people a disservice by allowing unregulated, and potentially unsafe, marijuana to be sold on the streets. If the government regulated it, then at least they would have some control over who can and cannot access it. For now, drug dealers regulate the marijuana market. Why not put a stop to this?

The United States should look closely to its northern neighbors and see how this new drug pans out. If it’s not being abused and is beneficial to MS patients, then it is something we need to consider. When it comes to people’s heath, we cannot continue to be so conservative in our views. We have to have a progressive stance and be willing to try new ways of treating illnesses, regardless of stereotypes and prejudices. If any of us were suffering from a debilitating illness, we too would want to be able to choose from any form of treatment available. Let’s do the same for those who are suffering now.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose members are listed to the left.