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Say It Straight: The Medical Myths of Marijuana


The Medical and Scientific Evidence
Political Issues: The California and Arizona Ballot Initiatives
Social and Cultural Issues

Talking Points For Challenging the Medical Use of Marijuana Argument

  1. The Medical and Scientific Evidence
There are over 10,000 scientific studies that prove marijuana is a harmful addictive drug. There is not one reliable study that demonstrates marijuana has any medical value.

Marijuana is an unstable mixture of more than 425 chemicals that convert to thousands when smoked. Many of these chemicals are toxic, psychoactive chemicals which are largely unstudied and appear in uncontrolled strengths.

The harmful consequences of smoking marijuana include, but are not limited to the following: premature cancer, addiction, coordination and perception impairment, a number of mental disorders including depression, hostility and increased aggressiveness, general apathy, memory loss, reproductive disabilities, and impairment to the immune system.

The Food and Drug Administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U. S. Public Health Service have rejected smoking crude marijuana as a medicine.

Medical marijuana has been promoted for "compassionate use" to assist people with cancer, AIDS and glaucoma. Scientific studies show the opposite is true; marijuana is damaging to individuals with these illnesses. In fact, people suffering with AIDS and glaucoma are being used unfairly by groups whose real agenda is to legalize marijuana.

  • AIDS: Scientific studies indicate marijuana damages the immune system, causing further peril to already weakened immune systems. HIV-positive marijuana smokers progress to full-blown AIDS twice as fast as non-smokers and have an increased incidence of bacterial pneumonia.

  • Cancer: Marijuana contains many cancer-causing substances, many of which are present in higher concentrations in marijuana than in tobacco.

  • Glaucoma: Marijuana does not prevent blindness due to glaucoma.

Marijuana is currently up to 25 times more potent than it was in the 1 960's, making the drug even more addictive.

Americans take their medicine in pills, solutions, sprays, shots, drops, creams, and sometimes in suppositories, but never by smoking. No medicine prescribed for us today is smoked.

The main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, THC (Tetra Hydrocannabinol), is already legally available in pharmaceutical capsule form by prescription from medical doctors. This drug, Marinol, is less often prescribed because of the potential adverse effects, and there are more effective new medicines currently available.

While a biomedical or causal relationship between marijuana and the use of hard drugs has not been established, the statistical association is quite convincing. Twelve to 17 year-olds who smoke marijuana are 85 times more likely to use cocaine than those who do not. Sixty percent of adolescents who use marijuana before age 15 will later use cocaine. These correlations are many times higher than the initial relationships found between smoking and lung cancer in the 1964 Surgeon General's report (nine to ten times higher).

Major medical and health organizations, as well as the vast majority of nationally recognized expert medical doctors, scientists and researchers, have concluded that smoking marijuana is not a safe and effective medicine. These organizations include: the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, National Sclerosis Association, the American Glaucoma Association, American Academy of Opthalmology, National Eye Institute, and the National Cancer Institute.

In 1994, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that marijuana should remain a Schedule I drug: highly addictive with no medical usefulness. The court noted that the pro-marijuana physicians had relied on non-scientific evidence.

  1. Political Issues: The California and Arizona Ballot Initiatives

California's Proposition 215, The Compassionate Use Act of 1996, states: "Section 11357 (criminal penalties), relating to the possession of marijuana, and Section 11358 (criminal penalties), relating to the cultivation of marijuana, shall not apply to a patient, or to a patient 's primary caregiver, who possess or cultivates marijuana for the personal medical purposes of the patient upon the written or oral recommendation or approval of a physician."

Arizona's Proposition 200, the Drug Medicalization, Prevention, and Control Act of 1996, states: "We must toughen Arizona 's laws against violent criminals on drugs. Any person who commits a violent crime while under the influence of illegal drugs should serve 100% of his or her sentence with absolutely no early release. " The proposition then goes on to say doctors may be permitted "to prescribe Schedule I controlled substances to treat a disease, or to relieve the pain and suffering of seriously ill and terminally ill patients."

Both of these ballot initiatives passed, with 56% support for Proposition 215 and 65% support for Proposition 200.

The language in these ballot initiatives for California and Arizona are so loosely worded that they basically legalize marijuana for everyone, sick or well, adult or child. Physicians will be able to legally dispense marijuana for migraines, depression or any other ailments.

Legalizing marijuana through the political process bypasses the safeguards established by the Food and Drug Administration to protect the public from dangerous or ineffective drugs. Every other prescribed drug must be tested according to scientifically rigorous protocols to ensure that it is safe and effective before it can be sold.

The California ballot initiative will make marijuana available without a written prescription, bypassing all established medical guidelines for dispensing drugs.

The Arizona ballot initiative will legalize all Schedule I drugs for medical use. Schedule I drugs are drugs that have a high potential for abuse and have no currently accepted medical use in treatment. Examples of Schedule I drugs are marijuana, LSD and heroin. Under Arizona's proposition all of these drugs would be essentially legalized for any so-called medical use.

Both of these laws allow for the possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes, however, buying and selling marijuana will remain illegal.

These ballot initiatives were passed through a major disinformation campaign financed by wealthy individuals from outside these states. The billionaire financier George Soros gave over half a million dollars to support these initiatives. Other significant contributors include George Zimmer, president and CEO of the Men's Wearhouse clothing store chain, Peter Lewis of The Progressive Corporation Insurance company in Ohio, and John Sperling, CEO of the Apollo Group, a Phoenix holding company for numerous educational institutions.

The true agenda for Proposition 215 and 200 is revealed when you examine the backers of these initiatives. The National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML), the Drug Policy Foundation and the Cannabis Buyers Club in San Francisco have spearheaded the passage of the propositions. The radical legalization agenda of these groups leaves little doubt about their broader goal to legalize marijuana and other drugs. As reported in High Times magazine, the director of NORML expressly stated that the medical use of marijuana is an integral part of the strategy to legalize marijuana. A former director of NORML told an Emory University audience that NORML would be using the issue of medicinal marijuana as a red herring to give marijuana a good name.

  1. Social and Cultural Issues
The medical marijuana movement and its million dollar media campaign have helped contribute to the changing attitude among our youth that marijuana use is harmless. This softening in antidrug attitudes among teens has led to a 140 percent increase in marijuana use among high school seniors from 1994-95.

The pro-legalization organizations behind these ballot initiatives deny that there is a drug problem among our youth. As much as they seek to focus on people suffering with illnesses, we must keep the debate properly centered on the safety of our kids. In a time where drug use among kids has increased 78 percent in the last four years, this country cannot afford to undermine drug prevention efforts with these pro-marijuana ballot initiatives.

The strategy to link marijuana with current legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco is used regularly by the pro-legalization groups. The response to this argument is to state that current use among teens is 50 percent for alcohol, 34 percent for tobacco and 19 percent for marijuana. If we want to see marijuana use among youth equal to alcohol and tobacco, then we should go ahead and legalize marijuana.

Legalizing marijuana would add a third drug that combines some of the most serious risks of alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana offers both the intoxicating effects of alcohol and the long-term lung damage of tobacco.

Tobacco companies similarly advertised cigarettes as medicinal until the Federal Trade Commission put a stop to it in 1955. Medicinal marijuana is the "Joe Camel" of the promarijuana lobby, since it is children, the first time users, who are most impressed by these erroneous health claims.
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