Neil Deatherage

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Should Cannabis be legalized as a medicine?

The rich biodiversity of plants in nature has provided humans many medicines to prevent and cure sickness and disease. The use of cannabis as a medicine continues to gain acceptance within the scientific and medical community, with Connecticut early this month joining 16 other states to legalize it for medical use. Case studies continue to support the value of cannabis as a medicine to ameliorate various ailments ranging from glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, Parkinson's, chronic pain, and nausea associated with cancer.

Despite scientific evidence supporting medicinal qualities from cannabis, much controversy surrounds outright legalization for medicinal use. While many states currently allow cannabis as an alternative to traditional medicines, the FDA continues to classify cannabis as a schedule I drug subjecting patients to possible fines and/or imprisonment under federal law.

Can cannabis find a place in today's society as an alternative medicine, or are possible unforeseen consequences too great to allow this plant for medicinal use?

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    May 19 2012: Yes, Cannabis should be legal. Putting aside the medicinal benefits which some would argue are controversial, Hemp is an amazing product in and of itself. Industrial Hemp produces more paper per acre than trees, produces higher quality fabrics than cotton, and is a green alternative to concrete.

    Cannabis is illegal because it cannot be patented. Pharmaceutical companies lobby to keep cannabis illegal because it replaces so many drugs they sell. Law enforcement agencies lobby to keep cannabis illegal because it's illegality funds massive expenditures for the war on drugs(an unsuccessful war). Private prisons lobby to keep cannabis illegal because cannabis stocks their cells and pays the bills. Notice that no where is harm considered.

    If anyone believes that cannabis is dangerous and that we should wait for pharmaceuticals, I suggest searching for the research being done to make pharmaceutical cannabis. Pharmaceutical companies are lobbying to keep cannabis illegal, but at the same time are paying off officials to allow for their patented essence of cannabis(which is just the leftover tea from soaking cannabis buds in alcohol).

    Cannabis should also be legalized due to the criminal organizations that have sprung up to fulfill demand. Prohibition didn't work for alcohol, and surprise, it doesn't work for cannabis.

    For anyone that would argue that legalizing sets grounds for legalizing any and all drugs, understand that your incorrect. Alcohol was legalized and that didn't open the floodgates for all drugs to be legalized. Why shouldn't all other drugs be legalized? Yes, plenty of drugs are horrible and will kill or destroy lives, but these drugs tend to be unpopular anyhow. Why does the danger of a drug supersede the rights of an individual over their own body? Cigarettes are horrible for the body, but people still smoke. However, due to information about the harmful effects of Cigarettes smoking has dramatically shrunk.

    Word limit hit. Hopefully the point is made.
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        May 19 2012: Prohibition is a perfect example of a classical idea that no longer is applicable. Due to the vast amount of information that can be easily accessed, prohibition only serves to make criminals out of those that want to do something in their own privacy.

        Whatever someone does in their privacy is their own business. If what they due infringes on another's rights, we already have laws to deal with those infractions.

        Put short, I agree, prohibition never seems to work.
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    May 17 2012: First of all, the studies you refer to test the effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the active component of marijuana, not marijuana itself. Smoking pot is medically much different than the effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol alone.

    Secondly, Marinol (Dronabinol) is a legal, pharmaceutical form of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol which provides all the benefits without any of the harm. THC, the active ingredient can help treat cancer patients by reducing nausea and increasing appetite, and Marinol does exactly that. However, when it comes to legalizing marijuana, I personally don't believe that we have chemotherapy patients in mind, its those who want to use it recreationally, which in itself is a completely different scenario/argument.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that the medical benefits of marijuana (delta-9-THC) are already available in pill form as Marinol (Dronabinol), so the argument that we should legalize weed for medicinal benefits is void. Even if we do legalize it for other reasons, smoking a joint is not the best way to treat any ailment, since smoking anything means the inhalation of carcinogens that come from combustion. Inhaling something that has been burnt is not great for your lungs.

    Lets not legalize weed for its medicinal value, lets legalize it for all the other reasons.
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      May 17 2012: While it is true that we currently have pharmaceutical alternatives to marijuana for treating nausea in patients, I am sure there is a large group of cancer patients who would prefer a more natural alternative. Cancer is a serious medical condition, such that normal users of alternative medicine most likely seek western medicine for treatment. However, if there was some natural remedy available for at least some aspect of treatment for these patients, they may well greatly appreciate it amidst the onslaught of chemical soups they are internalizing.

      I agree that most proponents for legalization of marijuana do not have cancer patients in mind, but perhaps the large community of herbalist do. Yes there is a laundry list of reasons why legalization should happen, regardless of medicinal value, but I think it would be unfair to exclude this value from the current debate.
      • May 17 2012: The irony of utilizing a carcinogenic to fight cancer seems lost on you. Perhaps if the pills were hidden in tomato rather than chemical soup, this would make for happier patients, yes?

        I live in the Netherlands where marijuana is semi-legal and I don't know anyone who smokes it for supposed medicinal benefits. In fact, I would become rather suspicious of people who cite that as the primary reason for smoking pot, as I would be of people who claim that their gambling is strictly therapeutic.
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          May 17 2012: Cannibis does not have to be carcinogenic, though most people choose to use it that way. The use of a vaporizer, for example, just raises the temperature enough to release the THC into a vapor that you inhale (smoke free).

          I was also merely trying to point out that there is a large portion of the population who prefer natural medical remedies, rather than constantly introducing a slurry of sythensized products into the body. This goes far beyond a simple distain for an image of a "chemical soup."
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        May 19 2012: I agree with you Drew. I think a large number of medical marijuana patients are attracted to the idea of a natural remedy. I personally know a handful of patients who have never even smoked it! There are many alternative forms out there, including tinctures and infused butters/oils for cooking. Sean Smith (comment below) also makes a very valid point regarding cost. It is much cheaper to purchase marijuana through a provider, or rather grow it yourself if you have a green thumb, than to pay a pharmaceutical company to synthetically derive the compound to take in pill form.
    • May 17 2012: when i was on Marinol it cost $32.00 per pill, medicare was paying over $1,200 per month to provide the same medication as $150 worth of marijuana (street value) I tell my story when I have more time!
  • May 19 2012: Cannabis (marijuana) should be legalized across the board, with the provision that it be restricted from minors.

    My motive is simple - it's the best option, in light of the status and costs of the war against drugs.

    My view about Cannabis is that it is a drug. You are what you eat, ingest, smoke, etc. Good health is prime in my book. Just because something is legal does not mean it's harmless to use. Personal liberty is also valuable to me and the reason legalizing Cannabis is acceptable, despite that fact that I see it as a harmful habit.

    Having said that, I think it should be heavily taxed, regulated and controlled like cigarettes and alcohol. Part of this government revenue needs to be earmarked to address controls, treatment, etc., associated with the use and misuse of this plant substance.

    Personal responsibility is on a parr with personal liberty in my view. To received public assistance it should be necessary to satisfy certain compliance requirements or be in a treatment program regarding being drug free and to have a sufficiently clean record with the law.

    A special restrictive provision for a documented medicinal user also seems appropriate.
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      May 21 2012: Overall I agree with this sentiment, especially with the provision that it should be restricted from minors. This is doubly so because we need to consider that brain development isn't complete until (on average) the early to mid twenties.

      There might be some question about when to define a minor as far as age goes, but we can perhaps us the same type of laws for marijuana as for alcohol (i.e. restricted until the age of 21 and legal ID is required).

      This still won't stop some teens from trying to obtain marijuana illegally though, as with the case in alcohol.
  • May 19 2012: Yes. It should be legal period I think.
  • May 17 2012: Not only should marijuana be available for medicinal purposes, it should be legal as a recreational drug like alcohol or tobacco. It's short term effects are far more mild and less dangerous than alcohol; its long term health effects are less severe than cigarettes and other tobacco products; and of course it has less addictive potential than both. I could mention the crime its illegality causes, and that the reason it was most likely made illegal was the fears of the timber industry losing paper profits, and that the reason it's probably still illegal is pharmaceutical companies' fear of being unable to patent a plant as medicine, but I won't.
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      May 17 2012: Pharmaceutical companies patent plant derived medicines all the time you just breed a unique strain, especially in the US. My concern is that considering the effects of alchohol and tobacco on society do we want to introduce something similar? As for its addictive potential nothing is as addictive as nicotine granted, but the widely held belief that cannabis isn't addictive is fallacious. Like alchohol some people are predisposed to addiction and the changes to brain function caused by long term cannabis use are irreversable. Reduction in natural cannabinoid production is the main problem.
      • May 18 2012: I just meant a plant. A naturally growing plant that they haven't patented or genetically altered so as to claim ownership. Not plant derived medicines. And I know people can become addicted to marijuana, but I meant to say its less addictive than alcohol and tobacco. I know people personally for whom it is a problem. As far as societal ills go, how much do you think it being illegal prevents people from smoking it? and would individual, legal use cause as many problems as attempting to completely prevent its distribution and trying to punish users and small-time, nonviolent dealers? just as individuals are free to drink alcoholic beverages and smoke tobacco, two substances arguably more dangerous than marijuana, so too should they be allowed to smoke marijuana. It's a squeeze argument: marijuana harm < legal drug harm, therefore marijuana should be legal. I suppose that may not be satisfying, but look at the money wasted trying (unsuccessfully) to police its use.
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          May 18 2012: I checked ther is actually an existing patent on the use of natural cannabis to treat inflammation. You can patent anything in the US. I agree the discussion should really be around whether its illegal status achieves anything, which as you say it probably just makes things worse. It just concerns me when younger people describe cannabis as harmless (see Nick's post above). When you're my age you have friends that have been addicted to it for twenty years and now struggle to leave the house as the slightest problem becomes an overwhelming crisis due to their lack of endocannabinoid production.
      • May 18 2012: You can patent a plant that can just grow in the wild? Because it does.... Damn. That's America I guess. I know it can be a problem, but I also know it can be used responsibly as alcohol can.
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          May 18 2012: Obey, believe it or not in the US you can patent a new use for a pre-existing substance. That's how they manage to patent parts of the human genome even though we all have a copy.
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      May 21 2012: Pharmaceutical companies take the main ingredient from plants and synthesize it into a pill, but as seen this week in lecture, many plants that are/were used for medicinal properties are more than just the main ingredient. The main ingredient and other parts of the plants are all needed to get all of the medicinal properties. That said, marijuana is a plant, that may have been found naturally, like the Native Americans use of it. I don't think a plant that used to naturally occur should be illegal.
      Alcohol and tobacco are both very addicting, have age limits, and have many negative side effects. Marijuana is no different then these two other substances, except that Alcohol has a history of detrimental effects, from DUI's to overdoses. I have heard on the news of many DUI deaths or killing people, or overdoses, but I don't think I have heard of people dying or being killed by Marijuana, yes other drugs have this effect, but not as bad with Marijuana. I think Marijuana should be legal, with the same rules and taxes as Alcohol and maybe some additional ones.
      The resources used to search for marijuana grows, dealers, and patients is great, when all of this money and time could be put into improving our education, getting our nation out of debt, or protecting the environment.
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        May 21 2012: Cannabis was actually introduced to the Americas by early european settlers. It comes from Asia originally.
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    May 17 2012: Conversation Recycled.


    Whatever happened to freedom of choice? Or free trade?

    Whether for recreational or medicinal use, maybe people should have the option of using it or not.
    If your old enough to choose and make mistakes, your old enough to face the consequences of your actions.

    Maybe legalizing it will teach us. If it does not work out, de-legalize it.

    Future generations can look back and learn about it, just like we are with the wars.

    At the moment, we conclude ourselves without no trial period. No real evidence.
    At the moment, this on-going conversation leads us, to ask the same question next year and the year after that.
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    May 24 2012: I would like to thank each and everyone for his/her insight and participation in this TED conversation. It has been with great pleasure reading different perspectives not only from fellow University of Oregon classmates, but perspectives from those throughout the United States and in different countries across the globe. The sheer volume of comments in this discussion suggests this question is going to remain at the forefront of scientific and political debate, with more questions than answers to come as the issue of medicinal cannabis intensifies. Thank you all again very much.

    Sincerely,

    Neil Deatherage
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    May 21 2012: It absolutely should be legal... It's cheaper and more effective than most anti-depressants, does less damage than alcohol to the body, and can be grown (free) from seed. It is also one of the most effective anti-nausea drugs available The ONLY reason it's still a Schedule 1 drug is that the anti-depressant manufacturers would be out of business if it were legal! The fact of the matter in my lifetime is that when the "War On Drugs" was started in the 1970's, aprox. 30% of "kids" used drugs of some sort...Alcohol, weed, coke, lsd, etc. That number has NOT changed appreciably in the 40 Years of WASTED dollars. It has been as low as 27% and as high as 34%. But it REMAINS around 30% throughout all the changes and time and BILLIONS of dollars wasted! This leads me to believe that about 30% of the population needs some form of drug to escape their reality... Many of those folks grow out of it but lots don't. I suspect that there is a bio-chemical reason for this but am no researcher... Just an observer of patterns in the world around me.
    Cannabis was only listed in the USA as a Schedule 1 Drug after the 1957.. This listing was due in large part to the fear that the cheap, renewable fiber from hemp would supplant wood pulp for paper production.... Yet another example of "our" "great" government protecting an industry from another industry at the great expense of the Citizens of the country! Please remember when dealing with our federal and state governments: They're policy is: " Profit before the people".
    See the attached link to Wikki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_history_of_cannabis_in_the_United_States#Marijuana_Tax_Act_.281937.29
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    May 21 2012: I believe that people should have the ability to take cannabis if they wish, but that the growing/sales of it should be highly regulated and taxed. I think the government could take this as an opportunity to make money to benefit things like medical research and other good causes. With all of the medicinal marijuana clinics there already are, there is obviously a demand for the drug, so there is money to be made. The government could research the medicinal benefits of marijuana and its side effects and then regulate and distribute it to the public.
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      May 21 2012: I agree with you that cannabis should be legalized but heavily taxed. I would argue though, that the money should be used to improve the country's economic situation as opposed to medical research. There absolutely is demand for cannabis, be it for medicinal or recreational purposes. Overall the effects of recreational use of cannabis don't seem to be much worse than tobacco or alcohol, and it certainly has medicinal value. I don't see any reason why it shouldn't be presented as an option for medical treatment. I agree that it needs to be regulated, as with tobacco and alcohol, and the short term and long term effects need to be made clear to the people. But with the demand for marijuana and hemp as high as it is, legalization for medical and recreational use could potentially significantly improve the country's economic situation.
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      May 22 2012: I completely agree with you Lisa. If we take a look at this issue in a broader less medical context there is great potential to make a lot of money via taxation and regulation. I also agree that with it's already known sources of medicinal value further research should be done on plants that belong to the same family as cannabis to see if any of these other plants hold as much potential. I would also find it interesting that since a couple other quite infamous drugs are also derived directly from plants or fungi, if research on possible medicinal properties they might have as well.
  • May 20 2012: I think that marijuana may have a place as an alternative medicine. While smoking anything is harmful for you, there are other ways to consume marijuana that do not these negative effects. I think that legalization will lead to more legitimate research into these other consumption methods that can possibly provide healing effects. Marijuana is not physically addicting, as legal substances such as alcohol, tobacco, opiate pain killers etc, but it is definitely habit forming and it can take over some people's lives. We have the right to use these substances, with regulation when we are of age, and I do not see how marijuana should be any different.
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    May 20 2012: People forget how recently all these things were made illegal. Things like cocaine and heroin weren't even regulated until 1907, and pot was only regulated after the 1930's. Prohibition was an experiment that failed miserably, and the war on drugs since the 1970's hasn't been much more successful. Prohibition didn't just kill people because of gangsters and smuggling. People desperate for a drink (not just alcoholics) died from drinking wood alcohol or the industrially denatured alcohols full of poisons. Ginger Jake is an excellent example of what happens when you try too hard to regulate something people don't want regulated. I don't feel strongly about pot one way or another, but I do think that if there's a chance of making money off of it that doesn't involve taxing the poor and middle class, then by all means.

    Here's a related article on heroin clinics in Sweden, for those curious about how other countries handle addicts. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1727532.stm
  • May 20 2012: I do not believe that canabis should be considered an alternative medicine due to certain medicinal benefits. I believe it should be the PRIMARY medical treatment for various ailments due to it's medicinal benefits. Specifically, I personally can vouch for someone that became the only cancer survivor in a large group under study for the rare form that he had and this may be directly attributable to his choice to illegally self medicate with marijuana in order to handle his adverse chemotherapy effects.

    It is nothing short of a tragedy that more people are not given better opportunity to take advantage of the medicinal benefits of marijuana.

    Shame on anyone who believes ignorantly that marijuana should not be legal purely supported with the idea that it is illegal for any good 'reason'. Become informed. One can not blame a drug for a problem in society. If people in society seek a drug, then there is a problem in that society that caused the behavior: this is fundamental in treating drug addiction and anyone who handles it knows.

    If we are to really engage arguments considering any other drug use, then one could easily infer from the historical and cultural importance of alcohol consumption that marijuana, nicotine, and caffeine are all in the same realm and should be classified the same. If one wants to argue purely on evidence of negative effects on health and society then alcohol should be made illegal before marijuana.

    In this thread someone has already made the valid point that in the USA, under the FDA's system of classifications, marijuana should be considered generally safe for human consumption since it has been widely consumed historically in many populations around the world safely and is well documented.
  • May 19 2012: There is absolutely NO justifiable reason for marijuana or any other drug to be illegal without being hypocritical towards alcohol. None whatsoever.

    Nearly half of all traffic accidents involve alcohol
    Alcohol kills more people in a single year than every illegal drug combined
    Most of the people using hard drugs started with alcohol or tobacco

    In 2010, the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs did a study showing how alcohol is the most harmful drug on the planet, even beating heroin. Good thing we're protecting society by keeping the truly dangerous drugs illegal!
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      May 20 2012: It should be kept in mind that a possible reason alcohol kills so many is because it is legal. There are a lot of drugs out there that can really mess a person up but since they are illegal, they are harder to obtain, and thus, harder to abuse. Don't get me wrong, I think all drugs should be legalized and the choice should be in the user, not the government's but I'm not sure stating that alcohol, a widely distributed drug, kills more people than rarer forms of drugs is a valid argument. It's similar to saying that domestic dogs are more dangerous than mountain lions because they kill more people in a year, when in fact, it's just because they are everywhere.
      • May 20 2012: True but that study I mentioned doesn't just base their conclusion off of CDC raw data though. If it was raw data, tobacco would be the most harmful considering almost half a million people die from it every year (out of the roughly 45 million people in the US that smoke). They can compare percentages of deaths to the percentage of people using different drugs to get an idea about which is more harmful. (The end conclusion of alcohol being the most harmful drug is including harm to society as well as harm to the individual. If you just look at the individual harm, heroin is still the most harmful. Alcohol isn't really too far away though.)
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      May 21 2012: Say it again, Max....Louder!
  • May 18 2012: Why did it become illegal in the first place? On PBS I learned that cannabis was outlawed due to fears that stoned black men would attack white women.
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      May 18 2012: It is the media making the simulacrum into the hyper-real which is now our "reality". It is quite frightening stuff. People should look past the smoke and mirrors of certain media outlets and analyze them for what they are, to get "Ratings".
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      May 18 2012: Check out Jean Baudrillard in his book called "Simulations". It talks about the simulacra within the media.
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    May 18 2012: I agree with the majority of commentors that marijuana should be legalized, especially for medical use. I think there is an unfortunate lack of research and evidence for both the benefits and risks of smoking marijuana because of its status as an illegal drug. We know that there are some medical benefits of smoking marijuana, but I think current medical knowledge is unfortunately limited and potentially undervalued because of the stigma associated with drugs. If marijuana were legalized, we would stand to gain a great wealth of information about how this drug should be used and when it poses potential risks rather than benefits. Medical and recreational users should have clear information about how and why marijuana can be useful. Additionally, legalization would help manage weed use in situations when it is perhaps not beneficial (ie smoking and driving, selling/buying in risky situations, etc). I think it is about time that the law reflects the honest benefits and relatively low risk factors associated with marijuana.
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      May 20 2012: I agree with you Lauren that medically, cannabis is an extremely beneficial. Also, that if it were to be legalized, the dangers of dealing with it illegally (such as drug dealing) would decrease. I think many people have such a strong opinion on keeping marijuana illegal is because of the social norm behind the word "illegal". Because of this, people automatically assume that marijuana is all bad and can never be used for good. But of course, as more more research supports it, it can be used for good, and that in some situations, it has been used for good. Sure, people abuse it. But it also seems that its in our human nature to abuse things and by making it illegal won't ever stop people from abusing it. However, this doesn't mean that everything should be legalized just because people will abuse it either way. There are things that are harmful to human health that should be kept illegal such as cocaine and such.
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      May 22 2012: Marijuana if made legal for medical reasons should be regulated by the DEA like opioid based drugs. This way what is dispensed legally can be regulated and maintained at a high quantity. Also it would probably be better to ingest it in other ways than smoking it due to the fact that it can cause more health problems in the future. Even if it is regulated by the DEA as a C2 drug, it will still be abused by people just like any other C2 drug out there. But this is a way for the people who do use it for its medical purposes only to make sure they have a quality product. The reason why I say not to legalize it completely is because of studies that have shown consistent use of marijuana can lead to mental health problems. Marijuana has a longer lifetime inside the body than alcohol and even some other more addicting drugs. Without studies done on the long term effects of consistent marijuana consumption, no one knows what the bioaccumulation will lead to.
  • May 18 2012: Cannabis is illegal for one reason and one reason only. It was to stem the tide of immigration from Mexico! Did the government not learn the lessons from prohibition? Is there now too many people incarcerated for its use? What about addiction? It is virtually no more addictive than food. We are 'hard wired' to become addicted to anything pleasurable. So if the medicinal properties of cannabis outweigh the side effects, i.e. pleasure, should we not control it, tax it, and use it? I take MORPHINE! Is that not a more addictive drug? Is that not ten-fold addictive? Is it more effective? Do the benefits outweigh the side effects? Contradiction in our laws are laughable, and destructive!
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    May 17 2012: Unforeseen consequences? You mean like when a new pharmaceutical is trialled?

    Across the board legalisation is the only intelligent and effective way to deal with any and all issues surrounding cannabis use.
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    May 22 2012: I think what will be interesting to watch over the next decade is how employment, insurance and our government handles cannabis becoming increasingly accepted as a medicine. Most jobs that require drug screening cannot accept cannabis as a medicine, often denying employment. Health insurance companies cover prescription drugs in the hundreds of millions of dollars per year, but have yet to extend coverage with less expensive cannabis alternatives. And when these issues cannot be solved in State Supreme Courts but must be decided in Federal Court? These will be very interesting times for cannabis in the United States..
  • May 22 2012: While I agree with most of our class that there are extensive benefits to legalizing medical marijuana, removing many of the restrictions on recreational use, and controlling the market much as we do alcohol and cigarettes, I think it is very important to consider the legal compensations we must make. While for some marijuana does not impair their ability to drive, communicate, or function in any other way, for many it does. A lot of the legitimate concern around marijuana legalization is that by turning it into a marketable commodity we are putting another mental-state altering drug into the hands of drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. I think if we are going to allow for the use of medical marijuana there have to be strict guidelines for its use as well as increasingly harsh conditions for being under its influence.

    I would also just like to say that while marijuana from an objective perspective is not a gateway drug, for an addictive personality all types of drugs are a gateway (including coffee, sodas, specific foods, etc.). I personally have been privy to family members who struggle with addiction now, and I do wonder if we did not have legal addictive stimulants, and easy access to the illegal ones, which like marijuana have few side effects, would these people I care about have ended up where they are today? The question then becomes where the realm of government ends and the freedom of the individual begins. Do we have the right as a government to limit all people's access to addictive stimulants? Or do all people have the right to make their own decisions without regulation? I lean more towards the latter, believing that all creatures on this earth are inherently good, except for wolverines, and as long as they are not hurting anyone else physically or emotionally because of their drug use then they should be allowed to make their own choices and use their own bodies as they will.
    • May 22 2012: I see what you're saying, but honestly... marijuana is very easily accessible in today's society. It's already in the hands of cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians and is exponentially less of a risk than alcohol and many other substances. I believe that marijuana use should be restricted while operating vehicles, but I don't believe conditions as strict as those in place for alcohol are necessary. Honestly, I think the biggest risk posed by marijuana is complacency, and even that I don't believe.

      As far as being a gateway drug, I again refer to it's ease of accessibility. If an individual really wants it, they will obtain it legally or illegally. Marijuana's illegality is not going to prevent a kid from trying it if they want to try it. Now, I'm not the world's greatest advocate for marijuana legalization, but seriously... there are much greater issues going on in the world to focus our resources and energy and the legalization of marijuana could be a great addition to the economic stability of this country if conservatism would adapt to dynamic and changing times.
      • May 22 2012: When it comes to accessibility I agree with both of your points. And I've got to say it's a bit of my point as well. We have a huge drug trade in the US, and with our prescription happy physicians it's not hard to get your hands on something we don't typically make at home. However my question is whether we should have these drugs at all. If the black hand of regulation came into our lives and removed all temptations there could be a world without drugs, it's not what I'm suggesting, but it's not out of the realm of possibility either.

        My concern when it comes to use is that it is a state altering drug, and while some people drive fine drunk, and some drive fine high you never know when the new food you ate that day will react strangely to the drug and halfway through your drive home your high over powers you. We don't know the side effects of marijuana when it comes to its daily use in our variable world, and there IS an increased risk to being on any type of medication or drug and operating a vehicle. I've been in the car too many times and switched drivers because the fade that day is just more than they expected and they are endangering themselves and others behind the wheel.
        • May 22 2012: The subject can easily become philosophical or a discussion concerning the power of our government, but that only adds difficulty to the subject. There are surveys continuously being taken that shows a a stark rise in use despite being illegal. I'm fairly certain removing the temptation would not result in the decline of drug use of any drug in general. How could temptation even be removed? If drug use was only as a result of individual rebellion to an established law, that may be the case. But, human nature is curious and that will not be restricted whether illegal or not as we have seen. Drug use of any kind will never disappear and history evinces people's dedication to them. Although a world or even nation absent of drug use would be great, we should not focus attention to the possibility, because although it is a possibility, it's such a minuscule possibility that probability does not favor it. The case is very similar to prohibition.

          I think it's pointless to draw the line between medicinal use and recreational use. Really, marijuana use isn't going to cause riots, it's not going to destroy society, and it's not going to halt national productivity. Although it is a mind altering drug that may be placed in the hands of the public, its side effects are much less of a threat than many other legal drugs on the market today. Yes, it's a risk, but it's a minor risk in which, if handled properly, the positives I believe have a much greater potential to outweigh the negatives. Medicinal use will only lead to the legality of recreational use, especially with the balance of power shifting to more liberal generations of leaders in the upcoming decades. It's imperative we remove our personal biases on the matter and focus on the way things are and how we may harbor these truths to benefit us, because currently, while the nation could benefit from the legalization of marijuana use, we will never with such conservatist restrictions. Times change and we must adapt to them.
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    May 21 2012: I think that marijuana should absolutely be an option medicinal treatment for illnesses like cancer. If the benefits from using medical marijuana are justified then there should be no reason that people can't use it for medicinal reasons. However, I think that people take advantage of this capability to obtain marijuana in some states. Therefore, cannabis should be more heavily regulated and distributed to people who would actually benefit from it and are not just trying to use it for recreational purposes. For instance, I know in California almost anyone can obtain medical marijuana. You could be having back pains and receive it without question. As far as the use of marijuana for medicinal reasons, its distribution does need to be more controlled to prevent this from happening. On that note, I do think the drug has a place in today's medical society, but its place in recreational society is a whole other subject.
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      May 21 2012: I agree that marijuana should be made legal for medicinal purposes. After seeing and hearing stories of people going through cancer anything to ease their pain makes sense to me. I think you are right in saying it has a definite place in today's medical society but should be separated from recreational use. I am wondering if you have any ideas on how medical marijuana could be better regulated?
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        May 21 2012: I also agree that medical marijuana has a place in medical society, most of the research I've read only states the absolute benefits to the drug. I agree, as well, that the availability of medical marijuana is tarred by the ease of access for illegal use or non-medicinal purposes and this image is used as a tool for proponents against medical marijuana and limits the potential for marijuana use for medicinal purposes. . Stricter regulation of medical marijuana distribution could help to limit this negative view(although I am not personally in favor of regulating marijuana for recreational use). One way to regulate and alter the view of non-medicinal use is to regulate the marijuana dispensaries, this can be as simple as requiring the dispensaries to have a more "pharmacy/medical office" atmosphere instead of a "head shop" atmosphere. The strains of marijuana could be restricted to ones that serve medicinal purposes instead of strains that have a hint of bubble gum or blueberry in them.
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    May 21 2012: I would vote for a libertarian solution of decriminalization of growing cannabis for personal use or barter but would want any commercial production to be heavily regulated and taxed, May sound contradictory but I think it would work to take the criminal element out of the loop.
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    May 19 2012: Stop the war on drugs and with the funds, Regulate, Educate, Rehabilitate. After that, a person chooses how they want to live their life.
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    May 18 2012: Hey Fellow Tedsters,

    Legalizing Cannabis is such a RIDICULOUS topic to discuss about because it is natural and we should just allow it to be legalized. It isn't even a dangerous drug. I have never met anyone who DIED from cannabis overdose. All these rules are just DISTRACTIONS that side track us from BIGGER ISSUES like ending world hunger, curing AIDs, war between countries that have a low moral basis, saving the Earth from going extinct, preserving the goodness of a full education, etc.

    Everyone can makes choices, but the back-story of individuals' choices is more crucial, so legalizing Cannabis will be a measure of character whether individuals' use it medically, out of curiosity, or just using it recreationally. So let's all rally our world leaders to see the larger issues at hand and hope they will be logical enough to make more intelligible choices. If not, then it is time to replace the government that has so blindingly passed important issues by.

    Thank you and good day. =)
    • May 19 2012: [DY] Legalizing Cannabis is such a RIDICULOUS topic to discuss about because it is natural

      [me] Papaver somniferum L. is entirely natural. 100% of heroin addicts start on milk... should we be arguing for legal measures to enforce a prohibition related to the giving of milk to babies?

      It should not be considered as ridiculous to discuss any topic... which other people feel that they want to discuss. Your finely-honed sense of the ridiculous makes absolutely no sense to me other than in the context of you wanting to shut down a debate in which you have no interest to participate . Your statement is merely a proposition followed by a non-sequitur.

      [DY] It isn't even a dangerous drug. I have never met anyone who DIED from cannabis overdose

      [me] Recreational psychotropic substance use has been shown to increase the risk for states which mimic psychosis.

      Encephale. 2009 Sep;35(4):377-85. Epub 2008 Jul 9.
      Cannabis and psychosis: search of a causal link through a critical and systematic review
      Le Bec PY, Fatséas M, Denis C, Lavie E, Auriacombe M.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19748375

      Conclusion: The objective of this article was to examine whether cannabis use can be an independent risk factor for chronic psychotic disorders, by using established criteria of causality. Data extracted from the selected studies showed that cannabis use may be an independent risk factor for the development of psychotic disorders. Early screening of the vulnerability to psychotic disorder should permit improved focus on prevention and information about the specific risks related to cannabis use among this population.

      You cannot meet people who have died. Q.E. D.

      It is a waste of your time (and mine) to have you going off any tangent which pleases you.... while preventing an examination of the issues despite purporting to be constructive debate.

      Your imprecation for us all to rally our world leaders is a nonsense, especially when you won't discuss these ridiculous issues.

      I
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        May 19 2012: You pose very pertinent points here Jeff, but I try to weigh issues on a larger scale of things. If you would weigh issues of war next to legalization of cannabis, then war would be of priority. Call me stubborn, but I find that Cannabis isn't such a big deal when we weigh in bigger issues. People have the ability to make their own descisions, unless they are forced into something, otherwise it is their own fault. Though they can go to rehabilitation centers, or go cold turkey.

        If legalized, the products containing Cannabis will contain its own warning labels just like cigarettes and any other medication anyone uses. There are risks in every aspect of life, but it is the intent of the individuals' who uses their agency that is more important. We should discuss then do, not discuss then discuss. Life is too short to be able to care for everyone, so they must weigh issues on a larger scale and solve issues according to levels of risk. This is all my own opinion, you have the agency to comment on my opinion or not; care about what I commented or not. It's all in the choice.

        Your twisting my words, when I said I have never met anyone who died, but finish with "from cannabis overdose". I suggest you read my entire comment before your accuse me of using incorrect grammar.
        • May 20 2012: Legalising canabis is related to the many 'greater' issues you have mentioned because these are all societal failures. The fundamental route of these failures stem from several sources, though mainly via poor governance and degraded personal investment in society (the former possibly stemming from the latter)

          The bulk of these issues could be sorted with everyone spending a reasonable amount of time (2-5hrs/wk) volunteering for a socially conscious cause. Participating in something purely for the action brings good to the community directly and through opening channels of communication that are vital for everything ranging from good governance to reducing persistent social ills.
        • May 20 2012: [DY] You pose very pertinent points here Jeff, but...

          ...what I am saying, Jeff, is far more important than your very pertinent points.

          [DY] If you would weigh issues of war next to legalization of cannabis, then war would be of priority.

          How dismissive of you! If you extend an argument beyond its natural boundaries, then any position can be made to look extreme... thus: The elimination of war is a very important matter for humans to address but when set next to the exploration and colonisation of inhabitable planets, in order for humans to deal with current shortages by utilising the near universe's greater resources for food and mineral wealth for all humans, it pales into insignificance.

          At least have the common courtesy to debate the points which were raised by me; rather than invent and substitute the ones you wish to argue. (as I have just done to illustrate your current method of deflecting useful debate)

          Are you a politician?

          [DY] Life is too short to be able to care for everyone.

          I am completely familiar with this depressing line of argument. It is how the wealthy avoid doing anything which I would consider to be socially useful... because it might disrupt their enjoyment of food, healthcare, choice of holiday, ability to shop and eat at the finest places. I have your measure now. Life is far too short for you to have your enjoyment of it impinged upon by matters which are far more distressing and pressing.

          [DY] This is all my own opinion

          Evidently. Opinions are neither right nor wrong and I refuse to debate them.

          [DY] Your twisting my words

          [per your own opinion] you have the agency to comment on my opinion or not; care about what I commented or not. It's all in the choice.

          I object to you believing something on the basis of your own limited experience then extrapolating it to encompass all other use cases.

          ---------> Logic 101
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        May 20 2012: Hi Enrico,
        True, cannabis can be discussed, but on the "levels of risk" view of issues, this issue fails in comparison to more important issues. Possibly the current laws may even suffice in maintaining Cannabis, but there is so much abuse of the distribution of Cannabis that the laws are a failure. So, why not pass Cannabis, then reinvent its production with additives. It will be similar to cigarettes, and tobacco. When we are able to manufacture Cannabis, that will create a controlled environment, then the issue would not seem so "horrible" to society. Too much of anything is bad and everything in moderation can impact individuals', and the world, positively.

        Not to mention after Cannabis' production is mantained, with its content diluted by additives, then job creation will increase as well.

        If you look into the medical world, drug manufacturers are an even bigger issue. They distort their products to sell and bribe pharmacists/doctors to prescribe their medication instead of their competition. That seems like a bigger issue than Cannabis. Corruption is above Cannabis in my opinion, for levels of risk in important issues.

        My opinion stays firm that legalizing Cannabis will keep it under control. Not legalizing Cannabis will allow the delinquents of society to abuse its distribution.
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        May 20 2012: Hi Jeff,
        I am neither rich, a politician, deflecting the issue pertaining to the above topic, or am I always correct, but I am not intending to play victim here neither. You are playing the victim and I don't want to reinforce your ideas that you are a victim. We could proclaim opposing ideas all day, but there are larger issues that need to be dealt with; and, space exploration fails in comparison to building positive relations with the current population of the planet of Earth, including the other existing species. Why reach our hand beyond our scope of understanding when our current situation of the world is more dire, but yes, Cannabis is a issue, though I commented on my position and you could attempt to understand and empathize and/or disagree. That is your agency. We are currently completely off topic and I'm not sure if there is a vocabulary term that is further than disgression, but we have totally digressed.

        My thoughts are we deal with human relations and issues on a scale that is "levels of risk" from highest to lowest, and when something is distracting the population from bigger issues, like war, I view it as a freedom of choice type of issue, so I conclude we allow people to make that "important" choice by legalizing Cannabis, then we can take care of a bigger issue.These issues are similar to many other social issues.People should be able to make choices, but if they make an error, then allow for another individual to correct them or for the individual to realize their error for themselves by following certain actions such as, distancing oneself from individual(s) that made an error.

        I acknowledged your points, but attempted to stear our conversation back on course, though my personal view is that Cannabis legalization should be a non-issue. I could have been developing, discussing something like how to cure a disease or solving environmental crises with you, but we are stuck in a loop about Cannabis. See how this is pointless? We can agree to not.
        • May 21 2012: Derek, I have no idea what you mean when you propose that I am playing the victim. I am not a victim in any sense. I am trying to be a participant in a debate and my frustration is this: The argument is about the legality of cannabis and its medicinal use (should cannabis be legalised as a medicine) and you have inserted the subject of war as your rationale for subsuming the debate about cannabis. In addition, you throw in some homespun philosophy to underpin this untenable position, complain about my use of language and then resort to the nonsense about choice and agency, bolstered by your use of the royal 'we'.

          I had objected to your wandering away from the point under scrutiny and made an effort to restore some semblance of coherent argument. Now you claim that larger issues need to be dealt with. I have never held the position that larger issues are not important, although we may both disagree about the order of priority in which we would place those issues.

          What is clear is that you are not discussing the subject matter in the opening post. You are merely dismissing it because of your value judgements about its importance, when placed next to subjects you rate as more significant. That does not constitute a debate or an argument which I can recognise.

          Your position is that you won't discuss this matter and it leaves me nothing upon which to hang an argument. You indicate we are 'off topic' completely. Please note that you took the matter 'off topic' by bringing war into the debate, which has absolutely nothing to do with cannabis and the legality of its medical usage.

          You introduced freedom of choice, importance, levels of risk, bigger issues, individual correction, personal viewpoint and then indicate the inherent pointlessness of this approach. On this we are agreed... it is futile to obscure the issue at hand with all this irrelevance and then complain about it being pointless.

          Personal opinion prevents a logical debate from taking place.
        • May 21 2012: Derek, your final words to Enrico include the following sentence...

          [DY] My opinion stays firm that legalizing Cannabis will keep it under control.

          This is only your opinion and it cannot be subjected to the rigours of logical argument. This opinion indicates a firmly closed mind and such clarity of purpose and inevitable certainty appears to be misplaced; especially when you consider that you have not exposed the logical thought processes by which you have arrived at your version of the truth.
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      May 21 2012: I don't know anyone that died from a cannabis overdose either but I also don;t know anyone that died of lung cancer or liver disease. I do however know many people who can't hold down a job because their long term cannabis use has rendered them unemployable. I am not apposed to legalising cannabis but the main danger of its use is the time scale over which the damage occurs. The physical changes that occur to the brain are very slow but irreversable.
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    May 18 2012: With such easy access to the drug on the streets, there is not a tangible risk that there is an enormous unforeseen consequence in the drug itself that we will discover upon its legalization, if we were to take this route. The war on drugs has killed countless people and devastated economies to an unreasonable extent. The effort put into stopping the use of this drug far exceeds the effort that our country puts into preventing much more dangerous products, lifestyles, etc. I think it's time that America faced the facts--there's not a good reason to keep marijuana illegal. Marijuana as a medicine has been proven effective and there is certainly not a good reason not to legalize medicinal marijuana.
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      May 18 2012: While your points about the the drug trade are valid, I have to question whether legalizing the use of marijuana as a prescription drug would do anything to change the war on drugs. Prescription drugs are widely abused and are still a large part of the drug trade. Legalizing the use of medicinal marijuana would only make it more available to the general population. However it isn't as insidious of a drug as say oxycontin, which is a legalized, highly addictive prescription painkiller.

      http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-abused-drugs/commonly-abused-prescription-drugs-chart
      • May 19 2012: Oxycontin is far worse from my second had experience than marijuana. It seems to completely numb your ability to think and form logical statements. Marijuana does sometimes get that bad but it requires much more visible signs and often other drugs are thrown into the mix, most comedians seem to have some relationship with illegal drugs during their careers often without huge adverse affects. I feel their is more time for treatment of the marijuana smoker than the Oxycontin patient. If you look at recent celebrities deaths reports, I think most the suicides have Oxycontin in their system(Would like to see better figures if anybody has them than my feelings. I know both Whitney Houston and Micheal Jackson had problems with this drug as well as Rush Limbaugh) I would much rather every patient be told to smoke or eat marijuana than take Oxycontin.
  • May 18 2012: I smoked Cannabis for years, not in big amounts but quite often. I don´t smoke it now because I gave up cigarettes and decided its all or nothing (in my case). There is no harm in it and its something thats pretty much available anywhere so I say why not legalise it and produce jobs and income for states/countries. Also at the same time reducing silly costs on trying to prohibit the substance. Its a relaxing effect that does not shape or change your judgement like alcohol would. People in some countries end up drinking so much that they can even remember their own name never mind act responsibly. Basically its hard for me to come up with a logical explanation as to why its not legal. In spain you can have a plant for personal use but only the people who want to smoke cannabis will smoke it. Its like anything else (drink, cigarettes, junk food etc etc). The only thing I found to be as a (for want of another word) bad effect is that if you have a spliff late at night, its in my case hard to get up early the next morning. But on the other hand the argument is that it helps people sleep :) . If you have work tomorrow early well you not going to get drunk because its hard to get up in the moring. Legalise it and let people make up their own minds about smoking it or not !! I´ve been to Amsterdam and there are people that live over there and they don´t smoke it but yet its available to buy in every coffee shop.

    Well I just registered with Ted and this is my first message but I look forward to communicating with you´s in the future !
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      May 18 2012: I think you brought up an interesting point about finding it hard to come up with a logical explanation as to why it isn't legal. As someone stated earlier, many states are beginning to legalize it for medical uses. I think this is great because Cannabis has been shown to have many positive effects. What's interesting to me is how Cannabis is only taken seriously when you put "medical" in front of marijuana. If you just want to smoke a bowl and get high with your friends, that's illegal. But if you're in pain and want marijuana, some states say that's alright. Alcohol and cigarettes haven't been shown to be as medically useful as marijuana, yet they're legal. I think it's interesting the way our society works sometimes... But I digress. Getting back to the original question, I see no problems with marijuana as an alternative medicine. I believe anybody who has tried it knows that it's really not as big of a deal as it has been portrayed to be, and is hoping that the government stops treating this issue the way it has in the past.
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    May 17 2012: Legalizing Cannabis whether it be strictly for medicinal use or just in general would produce another area for the government to tax citizens. At this point in the economic downfall I don't see why it shouldn't be legalized. The possible tax that would be put on it has the potential to be so great that it could greatly impact the deficit this country is in. I am not saying taxing of Cannabis due to legalization will fix the economic problem in this country but it does have the potential to impact it positively. Then again this may just be the Oregonian side of me talking since we are one of the sixteen states that allows the usage of Cannabis for medicinal purposes, which has put it openly in the public specially the last few years as being beneficial as medicine. Also Oregon is one of the states that has a lesser fine if caught compared to other states (misdemeanor if caught with possession of anything under an ounce).
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    May 17 2012: Wondering why this question coming again and again....?
    Is that a burning issue ?
    Don't we have any other alternatives what some biochemical substance of cannabis can do with better risk benefit ratio?
    I know some of those cannabis derivative produced pharamceutically are already approved on prescription basis (sorry for my ignorance about US) in many countries.
    Is the premise suggesting cannabis should be available in way so that anyone can buy it even without a medical reason?
    • May 19 2012: The US has prosecuted across sovereign Native American Treaty lines against Native Americans that were growing hemp, or very low THC marijuana who asked permission prior to growing and got a positive response. PBS did a story covering the Native Americans that feel victim to this attack. All hemp in the United States is imported just like all or almost all our morphine. We do not want the risk of drugs here so we export the problem.
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    May 17 2012: Hmm. Two things interest me:

    - Does cannabis have any exclusive properties? That is, are its qualities unique? Noted above are its abilities to treat glaucoma, Parkinson's, AIDS, and cancer. To my knowledge there are other medicines, even natural products, that treat these also. If there is a replacement--one that does not have the history of addiction associated with it as cannabis does--that leads me away from legalization of cannabis.

    - How "pure" is medical marijuana? That is, how far distanced from utilizing the plant itself, rather than a byproduct or isolated compound, or synthetic, is our use of cannabis? (I simply do not know -- feel free to edify.) That, to me, would be the greatest boon. I tend to think that the closer we are to nature's essential product, ultimately the more beneficial it is.

    Of course, even I have to regard this last comment of mine with some skepticism, because a poison dart frog's toxin may be "pure," but that doesn't mean it's good for you.
    • May 19 2012: Purity in products is often not desired the same way it is in manufacturing, or other fields as your last part clearly states. Often the ratio of harmful is to small in the products we have cultivated for many years, but still is there. Taking apples to cyanide, or your prescription drug that is supposed to be diluted with food and or water. All naturally growing things have a balance that protects their life and often makes it so something else can digest it without too much ill effects.
      One of the primary arguments against modern pot has been humans have greatly increased the THC production of the plant. (THC is what makes one "high"). People against the legalization this brings it closer to the poison apple.
      People for the use often use the argument that this balance in which grows naturally includes good natural combinations, that are often not found in your purer pharmaceutical grade drugs. Smoking pot with chemotherapy has fewer negative reactions than any appetite enhancing drug as well as numbing the pain. If you purified it getting the right doses also becomes more difficult. Pot like many plants can also be baked into food like a grain,
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    May 23 2012: By any consistent standard of substance hazard, cannabis is FAR less dangerous than many legal substances- for example, alcohol.
    The number of deaths in the history of humanity due to marijuana overdose? Still a whopping none, zero, nada.
    So if we as a society were looking to hold all substances to a consistent standard of control, of COURSE cannabis should be allowable as an alternative medicine, and should be treated with similar or less regulation than alcohol in every other sphere!
    But unfortunately we don't hold all substances to a consistent standard, because there is money to be made transforming the medicinal properties of this plant into a pill!
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    May 23 2012: Cannabis is a fairly neat plant and many benefits arise from its use. We continue to use items, substances, and resources that have proven to have severe and serious consequences. Take alcohol, oil, and fast food for instance. They are all legalized and they don't provide any benefits to us. So if you are asking me to consider whether or not we should legalize a plant to help patients in the medical field for "unforeseen consequences" I find that plain silly. Cannabis should be made legal for medical use.
  • May 23 2012: I've repeatedly heard that while being in possession of marijuana is illegal, it is not actually illegal to be high (at least in Oregon). However, I haven't been able to find any legitimate sources to back this up or refute it. Does anyone know the truth of this from more than just hearsay?
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      May 23 2012: It's certainly not illegal to be high. You can't be arrested anywhere for it. How can they prove you are high? And even if they somehow could, you can't be arrested for that. Only for possession of marijuana.
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        May 23 2012: Road side drug testing is done in Australia. They can test for THC amphetamines opiates and ecstacy type pills in your saliva. In Australia it is illegal to be high.
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          May 24 2012: Hmm, didn't know that. Well at least that doesn't apply for the United States. That's as much as I know.
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    May 23 2012: The debate around legalizing cannabis is a heated one, to say the least. There are the people on campus who go around with petitions to get pot legalized and decriminalized for any potential user. Many people are all on board for signing such petitions because they like to smoke recreationally, not for its medicinal purposes. Not many people take the medicinal aspect of marijuana seriously since so many people abuse their medical marijuana cards, however, there are some very serious benefits that I think need to be acknowledged when determining the legalization. One such benefit would be what this herb can offer to cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy and need a means of reducing their nausea so that they can be as comfortable as possible through a tough time in their lives. (http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/HerbsVitaminsandMinerals/marijuana)
    It really is too bad that so many people knock down the benefits of marijuana because of a few extreme cases that are published in the press. Hopefully the public can get past these stories and accept the benefits as an alternative medicine.
  • May 23 2012: I find it interesting that this is a debate which confines the question to - 'for medical purposes'. The USA is the only nation state, as far as I am aware, which has conducted a large scale 'prohibition' then legalisation experiment. The damage caused by prohibition in terms of the racket surrounding it and the general criminalisaton of large swathes of the population, together with the differential access to alcohol for rich and poor can in my view be paralleled with the current world wide concern over illegal drugs of all kinds. Many people using drugs chaotically, are doing so in an effort to self medicate the pain of their existence. The illegality of their usage and the resulting hike in prices leads to large scale criminality to fund drug use, launder profits, smuggle raw components. Increases in prostitution, burglary and robbery rates,gang warfare and exploitation of third world economies dependent on opiate production all to a significant extent arise from a stubborn refusal to confront the truth about drugs. Prohibition leads to unintended consequences which are worse than the ill effects of legalisation. .There is a huge proportion of the populations of the USA and UK, who are mouldering in prison because, instead of help with a drug problem, they have received harsh punishment. Meanwhile the drug barons continue to parasitise the poorest communities and rake in huge profits.
    Maybe it is time to announce a truce in the war on all drugs and think again...
  • May 23 2012: I believe that cannabis legalization could possibly lead to two separate place's in our society. In one case, the legalization could be a smooth process in which it is taxed, regulated and helpful to society, creating more jobs in a relatively new field of work and stimulating a small percentage of the nation's economy. Alternatively, it could end up being poorly regulated, taxed incorrectly and end up just being detrimental to our society. Hopefully situation one will unfold if it ever is legalized.
    • May 23 2012: Isn't the second scenario simply a less extreme version of the current situation?
  • May 23 2012: The majority of the responses favor the legalization of medical marijuana. My greatest concern about this is the regulation. I believe that the only way for medical marijuana to ever gain true acceptance, true pharmaceutical grade regulation must occur. This would mean that clinical trials would need to be conducted and the quality of the product would need to be ensured. Many dispensaries currently get their medical marijuana from backyard growers which puts the customers at risk for buying a below grade product. In addition, the current trend of passing out prescriptions without due cause also takes away from the effort. Both prescription pills and medical marijuana cards are abused which significantly detracts from the legalization of medical marijuana as it already has a negative connotation.
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    May 22 2012: I feel as though the legalization of Cannabis will may be imminent, although along with Neil, I have thought of the difficulties such a legalization will make for insurance companies. I think it is important to note that Marijuana is not just a "gateway drug" in the sense of using "harder" recreational drugs... but a gateway drug that spikes the interest of the user in seeking other natural medicinal cures and could inspire a greater trust in herbalism and natural medicines. This power struggle is what medical/insurance companies are trying to avoid, which I feel, is a proponent of why Cannabis has not been legalized though it is in no way worse than other legal intoxicants like alcohol!
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    May 22 2012: Considering the fact that many states have already legalized cannabis for medicinal use, and it seems likely that other states will follow suit eventually that this question is moot. It seems that if it has medical uses it should be used, especially given the fact that far worse drugs are used and are illegal without a prescription, such as methamphetamine. Particularly given this, it seems that it makes sense to legalize the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. I think that the drug needs to be re-classified in part because it is not particularly dangerous and studies on its long term effects are inconclusive. While some consider it to be a "gateway drug" and should therefore be controlled, I think that anyone uses more dangerous drugs would do so without cannabis and while there may be a correlation between cannabis users and users of hard drugs, I do not see a causative relationship. Those who will break the law and use cannabis simply more likely to break the law and use other drugs, but cannabis does not necessarily lead to this use.
    It also seems ridiculous to punish those with legitimate medical needs for cannabis for the actions of a few, but it is the price we pay for living in a modern society, just as sudafed (a nasal decongestant used to treat mild allergies) is no longer available over the counter because some were using it to make meth.
    To summarize: I think cannabis should be legalized and reclassified as a less dangerous drug so those with legitimate medical need do not face fines or imprisonment.
  • May 22 2012: I have to say that I am on the same page with many regarding my views of marijuana. The drug in a medicinal form or recreational use has been widely accepted across the country. Like Emil said before me, acquiring a medical card is not an outrageous task and many towns allow for individuals to have possession of the drug within small doses (i.e. Colorado). In addition, the negative connotations associated with the drug do not, in my opinion, out weigh the benefits that it may provide (i.e. tax, safe management and medical benefits). Therefor, I believe it can find it's way into our medical world without disruption of negative consequences.
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      May 22 2012: I agree with Molly. I think in a few years marijuana will no longer have the negative connotations that it does in some groups now. This depends also on the political power in government.This highlights the importance of the upcoming election, for if we end up with a conservative president things could turn out much differently. I am also interested in hearing more about clinical studies that have been done on the uses of marijuana. Legalization would open the door for much more of this type of work which would be beneficial.
      • May 23 2012: I think that if we end up with a conservative president this year, we will have much larger things to worry about than legalizing marijuana; hey, even a "liberal" president in office does not guarantee that his or her ideas will become reality. My biggest problems with marijuana are the way it is currently distributed, and (like Ellen said) how it will influence the actions and decisions of those using it while in situations that could be dangerous to people around them. Whether or not marijuana is legalized, it should be managed like any other prescription drug: there should be a set dosage prescribed by a physician. As it is now, those who have medical marijuana cards can buy it from licensed growers and have up to 24 ounces of it in their possession, to take at will. That's a lot. It's enough that the user could become irresponsible with it, taking more often than necessary and then getting into a car and killing someone on the road. It's enough to sell to others. The regulation of this drug into a set dosage would hopefully get rid of some of that uncertainty. It would certainly make me feel safer about the consequences of arguing for its legalization.
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    May 22 2012: I feel that, at least in west coast cities, Cannabis has already been accepted as an alternative medicine. In Oregon it seems like almost anyone can get a medical card. The only legal issues that seem to come about with medical marijuana in Oregon is the closing of dispensaries, but even this is minor because there are so many in the major cities. I'm sure medical marijuana is much more taboo in other states, but it seems to me like a good amount of North American's have already accepted/embraced marijuana's medicinal value.
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    May 22 2012: Wow almost every response is in favor of Cannabis becoming legal. That explains a lot of the responses I have read in the past (LOL). However, when tests are administered to see if Cannabis is in the system they measure for THC the active chemicals in the plant. If that has been identified and can be manufactured then what is the need to legalize? If the perscription is for eyes then add THC to other eye medicines and go to the pharmacy and get your perscription filled. For other ailments do the same medicine plus THC and perscribe. The reason to legalize is to make recreational cannabis available. Thefts were it is grown will go up. resales will go up. Crime in general will increase as the "abusers" will prey on the licenced users. One responder said alchol and cigarettes are killers already available so legalizes all drugs. So, we have two problems lets multiply it to five, ten, or more. The cost of insurance for medical, car, life, etc ... will skyrocket. The welfare generation will be selling off all they can get and use. The "I want it all free" will become more dependent and costly to the few who still work and pay for all of them.

    Nope can not see this as a good thing. Drugs, illegals and criminals are the most expensive cost that burden the workers today. Making it legal will not change the crime rate. It will increase the danger it represents to the public.

    Okay I'm braced for the responses. I have been in police work most of my life and have seen this first hand. Hope it never come to your house or your loved ones. All the best. Bob.
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      May 22 2012: I can't tell if you are trolling. However, I will respond as if you are being serious.

      Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but your assertions are simply opinions. One cannot definitively say, "If cannabis is legalized for medical use, then crime will... insurance will... etc." Saying you know what will happen is nonsense. In fact, a 5 min GoogleScholar search will provide peer reviewed studies that make claims completely opposite of your assertions.

      Medically speaking, the THC drug you mention is called Marinol. Though it has helped many patients manage various diseases, anecdotal evidence supports the view that it is not as effective as when THC is ingested via cannabis. Furthermore, the drug is costly and many insurance providers will not cover the cost of the prescription. If you had to watch a loved one whither away due to complications of a disease that could be eased with cannabis, I believe making your stance would be softened if not swayed.

      Lastly, in response for your association of the legalization movement and the "welfare generation," I would like to direct you to a recent NY Times op-ed. This editorial was penned by a NY State Supreme Court Justice. Since you are formerly in law enforcement, perhaps the opinion of an individual who 1) is not of the welfare generation and 2) has dedicated their life to upholding the laws of our country as you have may soften your opinions. Here is the web address:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/opinion/a-judges-plea-for-medical-marijuana.html?_r=2&ref=opinion

      Bob, thank you for your service as a police officer. I hope that you continue to consume additional information concerning this subject matter and come to a more defensible, less inflammatory opinion (even if you still disagree with legalization). Disagreement is okay; shooting from the hip on a sensitive issue is less so.
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        May 22 2012: Pat, Lawyers make a living finding someone who will support their client this time and provide evidence against the next time. Lawyers move cases to get favorable judges. Opinion pieces in papers are a dime a dozen. As you yourself state the cost is expensive and insurance will not cover it. If made legal would it still be expensive, would insurance cover it, etc ... Making it legal would not stop abuse. Pat my "assertions" come from the school of been there done that, seen that, hate that. I have seen people die from using drugs but never from not using illegal drugs. Yep I'm hard over on the subject no doubt. I believe that there is a medical field called onocology that helps relieve pain in dying people. Again no need for cannabis. Hope I never have to say I'm sorry this happened to you. Go to your PD and ask for a ride along into the seedy part of town and see first hand the destruction caused by drugs and drug wars. Or go the hospital emergency room and work as a volunteer and see the amount of drug and drug related cases come in each night. If you want in the game argue from the been there aspect and you will have more credability. We are certainly on the different side of the fence on this Pat. All the best. Bob
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          May 22 2012: You cheapen your stance by demeaning the entire legal profession. In my opinion, you are very nearly slandering a State Supreme Court Justice. That Justice, also a cancer patient, deserves more respect than anonymous internet lawyer snipping.

          Sure there are many op-eds to be had, but there is only one NY Times and I would venture a guess it is crazy difficult to get your essay published there. Dime a dozen in the NY Times, I think not.

          Oncology is a medical specialty that deals with cancer and cancer treatment. Sure oncologists deal with minimizing pain, but so do orthopedic surgeons, cardiologists, and ophthalmologists. So discounting the need for cannabis based on the fact there are oncologists isn't the best argument one could make.

          Again, I urge you to research this issue. Having worked in a level one trauma hospital, I can say I have never seen anyone come in due to the ill effects of marijuana. As for the PD suggestion, I have been on two ride-a-longs. My college roommates (3) all now work as police officers in municipalities around Kansas City. I have my bases covered and come to my conclusion on this issue.

          I applaud your disagreement and am encouraged you care enough to reply to my post. I am not trying to dissuade you from your opinion, just hoping you will continue your research and come to a more reasoned defense of your position (it is a very valid position on this issue).
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      May 22 2012: Bob, first off I would like to reply to your surprise to almost every response being in favor of Cannabis becoming legal. This particular talk was posted by a student at University of Oregon in affiliation with a class assignment in which 60 students are required to post. A majority of the posts are from students in Eugene and there is a cultural aspect involving marijuana that may be influencing many students ideas on Cannabis.

      Secondly, THC in pill form is available but the argument against this would be that act of taking marijuana in as a whole (either smoked or oils heated and ate etc) has synergistic effects that cannot be reproduced by simply using one component of marijuana.

      Finally, it is hard for me to see crime rates increasing due to marijuana use, marijuana is omnipresent and the structures to abuse, such as gardens, drug dealers, etc are already in place and are not being abused at any unusual rate. I know many marijuana "users" from every walk of life, including line cooks and 6 figure professionals and none of them prey on others. I think the idea that marijuana makes people criminals is the same ideas as cake making someone fat. Some people are predisposed to criminal activity due to genetics and environment, marijuana does not make someone a criminal. Some people are predisposed to over-consuming cake because of genetics and environment and this makes them fat, the cake doesn't make them fat.

      Peace
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      May 22 2012: Bob, I find your comment very informing. It's interesting to hear a point of view from someone that understands the law side of the issue. When I've had this same debate in some of my previous classes, many students argued that if marijuana was legalized, our crime rate would decrease and the use of the drug would slowly diminish overtime. I believe that we will never truly know what will happen in our society until we see if for ourselves.
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        May 22 2012: Those are arguments of passion not fact. I agree that the final bell would be the determiner. If it is legalized I will obey the law. The people who will win are the lawyers. Losers are the homeowners and business people. Insurance lawyers will add clauses to policies for home, car, and life and rates will go up. Not any different that rates for me if I got a DUI, etc ... Laws will be written to protect the police and the public if the offender is "under the influence". This is a big game that will change many things and none for the better. The new big ad will be "Busted for POT call Joe the Lawyer a expert in cannabis cases". Cops will be sued daily for enforcing "bad" laws and shot at by irate citizens. Nothing good will come from this. For sure it will cost the straight guys. Thanks for the reply. Its not the law side I express. It is the scum of society and dead kids that should never have been there, the suffering of mothers, fathers, kids, and innocents that make me cry. I feel nothing for the scum that prostitutes a young girl hooked on drugs. Sorry to preach. All the best. Bob
    • May 22 2012: Robert what do you think of my assertion that keeping marijuana illegal effectively subsidizes the product to the benefit of organized crime? The Canadian Association of Police Chiefs has advocated decriminalization because keeping it illegal effectively makes the police enemies of young people, who smell the hypocrisy of a police force protecting the rights of pharmaceutical companies and alcohol/tobacco companies to sell drugs while criminalizing those who choose relatively safe and natural alternatives. History shows us prohibition does not work, except to make the criminal element more prosperous while simple users find themselves in jail or socially ostracized.
      Then again, in America where over 3% of the population is in jail or on probation, the business model of incarceration demands tenants....
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    May 21 2012: I don't see any problem with making this a medical drug. Just like other perscription drugs it should be moniter and only allowed to people who need it. Just like perscription pain pills they have there place but should only be given to you when it is deem appropriate by a doctor. I strongly think that marijuana allow to be used for medicial purposes/
  • May 21 2012: First off, I am all for medicinal cannabis. There are just too many accounts of people with severe pain who have been helped by medicinal cannabis to humanely oppose the idea. By no means though does this mean that I think our current system is utilizing this drug effectively.

    When a patient is prescribed nearly any other drug, they are prescribed a fixed amount of it to be measured out for them by a pharmacist. Cannabis is considered a schedule I narcotic by the federal government, and because of this cannot be prescribed by a physician (at least not in Oregon). The way our states system works is that a grower is legally able to grow the cannabis for a medicinal card holder. That card holder is legally allowed to posses up to 24 ounces of cannabis, they are legally able to have in their possession 1.5lbs! Anyone who knows anything about the plant knows this is a staggering amount. When the patient is out of the plant they can just go back to the grower and obtain more. This system is flawed, and is creating the ability for people to abuse the drug. If the drug is not going to be legalized and we are going to continue to legally allow it only for medicinal purposes it should be prescribed like any other drug. Source: Oregon Medical Marijuana Program Handbook
    http://public.health.oregon.gov/DiseasesConditions/ChronicDisease/MedicalMarijuanaProgram/Documents/ommpHandbook.pdf

    Personally I think it should just be legalized. The economic benefits are undeniable, and the only dangerous aspect of the drug are legal ramifications created because the plant is illegal. It is a relatively harmless substance (compared to alcohol at least) and frankly seems un-American to tell people they cannot use a plant that naturally grows in this country.
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      May 22 2012: I agree completely, I did not know about all the implementation laws and 1.5 pounds does seem like a large amount. It should be like other prescription drugs where a certain amount is allowed by a physician and the dose is dependent on the need of the patient, not on a universal law saying that everyone with a certain condition can obtain the same amount. The "special" classification of cannabis needs to be taken away and it needs to be adopted within the practice of medicine.
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    May 21 2012: I believe that al drugs should be legal. I don't do drugs, but I know many people who do, and something I've learned is that making something illegal won't stop people from using it. Another reason why I believe all drugs should be legal is alcohol and cigarettes. The two are drugs that kill people, not only the user, but those around them. So yeah, all drugs should be legal, I think it would make them easier to manage.
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    May 21 2012: I do not think the legality of the drug would be the biggest issue, but how the drug is bought and sold without reaching those who will sell the drug for recreational use. I think the method of administering the right to grow your own plants should not be allowed, the patient should have to request a prescription and refill it at a pharmacy to control the amount released to the public. This is because there are those irresponsible people who will grow more than needed and give the extra to someone for resale and in turn be used not as a health aid, but as a possibly dangerous recreational activity. Any attempt to lower the excess drug to the public, the better. If they can legalize it while controlling its distribution, I see no problem in the legalization of marijuana.
  • May 21 2012: For me.. of course
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    May 21 2012: If it is truy medicinal, of course it should be available to those who are ill under the same restrictions as other meds.
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    May 21 2012: I'm in the same boat here as many individuals in that I believe that it should be legalized, taxed and made available to those who need it. Although I am far from knowing much about marijuana, I have read enough articles and heard enough debates to determine that it is effective in aiding people who use it to fight symptoms of many different illnesses whether it be that of chemotherapy, pain, etc. Through the legalization of marijuana, it seems apparent that it would significantly raise taxes while also cutting out a huge amount of drug smuggling that occurs on a daily basis across both state and international borders. Instead of raising a property or income tax, why not open up a massive and entirely new resource to tax? Marijuana is along the same lines of alcohol, except how many people die of overdosing on it?
    It seems to me that there isn't any significant group of people who are opposed to taxing marijuana and, although it is considered a gateway drug, it seems potentially more safe than liquor. Yes, it is a social taboo here and there are countless cases of people abusing it but if it can actually benefit the lives of a huge number of people like it seems it has and can, then let's legalize it, regulate it, tax it and help our country move forward.
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      May 21 2012: Hey Trevor,
      I agree with what you said above about legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana. While people may still buy it illegally, will that number go up if we legalize it? Likely not. Also people do abuse marijuana, but people also abuse tobacco and alcohol as well.

      Legalizing the use of marijuana also brings up another issue though and that is the growing of the plant. Would there be governmental farms that grow and sell marijuana for the purpose of medical use, or would anyone now be allowed to become a marijuana farmer and start selling to the government so that they may tax it?
      • May 21 2012: Perhaps like tobacco it could be a licensed plant where an individual could grow up to 12 plants for personal use.
        My opinion is that by keeping cannabis illegal they effectively subsidize it for organized crime. Rather than being worth $20 per once it is worth $200. I guess it keeps bikers out of worse trouble.... hard to say!
  • May 21 2012: There seems to be one issue that people seem to forgetting about, that needs to be considered in this discussion. Money. As far a legaization goes, it is never ending cycle of opposing views. However, the economic growth and development of an industry needs to be considered.

    It is estimated that the state of California is missing out on about $15 billion in revenue from legalization. This is in just sales and taxes alone. Consider the fact that there would also be an industrial boon resulting in the creation of new jobs in the sales, cultivation, distribution, and marketing aspects. Given the fact that the US faces an incredible amount of debt at this time, the government needs to be proactive in its search for new streams of revenue. Not only would there be the taxable income from individual states, there could, and should be federal luxury taxes as well, similar to those on alcohol and tobacco.

    Take into account the reduction in cost of the war on drugs and the federal government could be earing billions annually from a simple piece of legislature. I do believe that there needs to be regulation and control if legalization were considered. Fines, taxes, and penalites must be applied. But, simply apply the rules that govern alcohol to marijuana, and there is a system set up for the government to manage, and mitigate the risks that will come.

    The pro-marijuana groups, such as NORML, have a mantra of "Tax my weed legally, please". This simple statement shows that there is a growing social drive, a willingness to pay any and all taxes levied, and a growing market that needs to be tapped. This source of incomes should not be ignored.
    • May 21 2012: This seems like the main argument for most people but it is not as simple as most seem to think. Legalizing weed would instantly take away power, money and influence from the tobacco, pharmaceutical and alcohol industries. To me, it makes a lot more sense that these industries fighting to keep marijuana illegal is what is preventing marijuana from having an economic impact rather than the government's unwillingness to make it legal. You are definitely right when you say money is at the root of this discussion but the groups that are fighting for legalization have a lot less than those fighting to keep it illegal and surrounded by social stigmas.
      • May 21 2012: Its funny that you mention that. I was under the distinct impression that the role of government was to be the voice of the people. It seems, however, that the powers that be are more interested in the special interest groups that fund their campaigns that what the people desire.

        For years I have spoken about how the government needs to strip itself away from the special interest teat and go back to its roots. Of the people, for the people, by the people. Instead, the government has degenerated into an elitist organization with the will of the common man no where in its sights. Even the Democrats, who claim to care for the middle and working classes, all come from well to do socialites.

        It has been ages since someone in big government has actually cared, and acted upon, the needs of the commonwealth. Instead the entire system has become gummed up with the backscratching of special interest groups and the "good-old boys club". It has all become a homogeneous blob.

        If the people were actually represented I believe that not only would we see the decriminalization of a common plant, but we would see a paradigm shift towards a system that aims to take care of its citizens though socialized programs, including health care.

        Now, don't for a second think that I am in favor of Socialism and Big-Brother. However, last I checked, my big brother has always looked out for my well being, no matter the cost to himself.
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    May 21 2012: I'm cautious to say anything either way on this subject because of the huge variations of "data" that exist on this subject. Drugs have never been my biggest subject of interest, so I've never done much if any digging myself, but I've heard a ton about the subject from word of mouth, classes and such, and have heard an astounding number of "facts" that conflict with each other. For instance I’ve heard several times that fMRI's have shown that cannabis has no long term effects...and I've heard the exact opposite many times. I know fMRI isn't the most absolute science in the world, but really, the subject is just a mess and I don't see any reliable way to judge how dangerous cannabis is or isn't. Of course there’s a TON of anecdotal data about cannabis because it's very widely used illegal or not, but it's very hard to glean the level of involvement of something like drugs outside of an at least somewhat controlled environment. There are a massive numbers of factors in play.

    I will say that if it really does have strong medical properties then it should be legalized as a prescription medicine. Even if it is harmful, if it helps elevate symptoms of something else harmful, it should at least be provided as an option; as long as it's made clear that there might be adverse side effects. That’s how it goes with medicine; sometimes it’s less about finding a “cure” and more of choosing between two evils. Of course, I think the issue lies less in the dangers/benefits cannabis has on an individual level and more on what effect legalizing marijuana/medicinal marijuana has on a societal level, and that's when I officially feel unqualified to talk about the subject.
    • May 23 2012: Logan, I appreciate your honesty on the subject, and I feel compelled to agree. I simply do not know enough about this subject to feel confident arguing one side or another without adding to the plethora of insubstantial arguments already available. I have heard extremely conflicting views on almost every aspect of this debate. I completely agree that although many parts of the marijuana debate center around quality of life and how the drug will change the life of a given individual, these arguments have very little to do with the legalization status. Money and crime rate are going to be the big players in this game. I don't agree that this is how it should be, only how it is.
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    May 20 2012: If you are willing to spend half an hour doing some research into published results from University research programs you will find that cannabis is indeed addictive as its use can cause permanent alteration of brain chemistry. It has also been shown to decrease the size of both the hippocampus and the amygdala in long term users. Personally I would probably support legalising cannabis use but it concerns me the number of posters that describe it as harmless. Long term use is at least as damaging as alcohol although not as bad as tobacco. I'm only refering to the medical effects. The social impact is much harder to asses.
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      May 21 2012: I would definitely agree with you that the negative effects of cannabis should be known, they are not nearly talked about enough. Most people just think of it as "wrong" or taboo because it is an illegal drug, but all types of side effects should also be known.
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    May 20 2012: Medicinal marijuana should be an option for individuals dealing with chronic pain since many pain relieving medications, such as hydrocodone, are much more addictive than cannabis. Furthermore, there is no risk of overdose from cannabis use. However, the long term risks of habitual cannabis use aren’t well known and there needs to be much research in this area. There’s no question that cannabis has some medical uses, but long term studies are needed to determine whether cannabis is the best option for individuals dealing with chronic pain. As for its legalization,it would have to occur at the Federal level since medical marijuana dispensaries that are legally run in states such as California have been shut down by Federal agencies.
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      May 20 2012: I agree that marijuana should be legal for medicinal use, but feel that recreational use should not be allowed. Knowing people who used it recreational and seeing how it affected their lives helped form my opinion. Once they stopped using, they changed for the better. Making it that much easier to obtain would likely mean that more people would be using marijuana, and more lives could be negatively impacted. I would like to see more studies done, however to show that it would be useful for dealing with chronic pain.
      • May 20 2012: What's the difference between someone recreationally using marijuana or recreationally drinking beer though? (Or even other hobbies like playing MMORPGs.) If someone lets alcohol, marijuana or an MMO consume their whole life until that's the only thing they do, then of course their life will get better once they stop.

        A healthy life is all about moderation so my point would be that just because some people might want to let marijuana define their lives, I don't see why the majority of recreational users that are interested in a more balanced life should have to suffer. It's kind of hypocritical IMO because you could replace marijuana with many other things like alcohol, MMOs, work, exercise, Tumblr, etc., and the statement would still apply. (Max played MMOs 12 hours a day and now that he stopped playing, his entire life has improved.)
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    Josh S

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    May 20 2012: Just had a thought on a lot of the comments here.

    Many people bring up the topic that since alcohol is legal, marijuana should be as well. I agree with this, it makes sense, its logical, its true.

    But logically, do 2 wrongs make a right? Because we have messed up in one area, does that mean we should mess up in another? Is our failures in alcohol a legitimate reason to legalize marijuana?
    Just a thought
    • May 20 2012: I look at it like this. Historical and modern examples of prohibition have shown one thing. Usage of the prohibited item is only marginally affected at best and more importantly, organized crime springs up to tap the market which leads to a huge increase in violence and murder.

      What I find wrong is the fact that we have people in power that think tens of thousands of grotesque murders south of our border is an acceptable loss in this war on drugs. (And if the war on drugs only has a marginal effect on the number of drug users, then what exactly are these people dying for?)


      To more directly answer your question though, it would depend on whether you think drug use is morally 'wrong'. I don't personally use any drugs, including alcohol and I don't feel that drug use is wrong at all. If a person wants to get high or drunk, it really has no bearing on my life whatsoever. Similarly, if someone wants to do other potentially life-threatening activities like eating fast food or participating in extreme sports like skydiving, rock climbing, skiing and spelunking, it doesn't really affect me in any way. IMO what a person wants to do to their own body is up to them.

      I don't feel that something is necessarily 'wrong' until a victim is involved. People will often try to quickly respond to me with a slippery slope argument about how legalizing rape and murder are the next logical steps but they are overlooking the obvious difference between a victimless crime and a crime with a victim. Stalking has a victim, theft has a victim, murder has a victim, rape has a victim, etc. The only 'victim' of drug use is the person freely choosing to use drugs and I see no difference between that and a person who freely chooses to eat fast food or skydive.
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    May 19 2012: Cannabis is illegal for a reason and should without a doubt remain illegal. Marijuana is the second leading cause of drug dependance and has the capacity to ruin lives. I have no issues with medical marijuana since it is legal, but I think it should remain illegal for recreational use. I realize this is an unpopular view in Eugene and specifically at the University of Oregon but there are very real reasons why it should remain illegal. People that say otherwise haven't seen it destroy families.
    • May 19 2012: Unless you are willing to prohibit alcohol too, along with many other things, your stance is entirely hypocritical.

      Alcohol was illegal too but when people kept dying on American soil from organized crime, we repealed alcohol prohibition. Today, tens of thousands of people are brutally murdered every year by drug cartels south of out border but who cares, we're 'winning' the war on drugs. (If those murders we're on American soil, the war on drugs would be over tomorrow.)

      Where do you get your information about drug dependency? Marijuana is not physically addictive whereas tobacco, alcohol and caffeine are all physically addictive. A person can become mentally addicted to marijuana but then again, a person can become mentally addicted to anything, including sports, sewing, video games, reading books, watching television, gambling and even sex. If someone does any one of those things too much, it can ruin their life. Does that mean the hobby is at fault? Or is it the person doing the hobby to excess at fault?
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        May 20 2012: Please do some research regarding the permanent reduction in endocannabinoid production in lomg term cannabis users and reduced memory function and reduced function of the amygdala and hippocampus as shown in FMRI scans at the university of Wollongong in Australia.
    • May 19 2012: I must challenge these statements on an empirical level. The notion that Marijuana is the second leading cause of dependency seems highly implausible (actually impossible) to me. The only statistic I have ever seen that would come close to backing up this assertion relates to the number of people admitted to treatment programs. The problem with this statistic is that nearly 100% of those folks entered those programs as part of a drug diversion program administered by the courts. In other words they were ordered to seek treatment. I do not know a single person who has sought treatment for cannabis "addiction" voluntarily. While at the same time I know large numbers who have sought treatment for alcohol, prescription pain killers or methamphetamine abuse. While this is anecdotal, I believe it is representative.

      Our last three presidents have all admitted cannabis use and it didn't seem to ruin their lives. The only destruction I have seen surrounding cannabis use has come from the consequences of prohibition itself. We have by far the largest per-capita incarceration rate in the world (exceeding China, Russia, Saudia Arabia and every other dictatorial regime) due to our drug laws. It is prison, not cannabis, that destroys families.

      The m,ost persuasive argument though is results oriented. If you say to me that cannabis is highly addictive and dangerous, then I say we really must legalize. We have one of the highest rates of cannabis consumption in the world despite our draconian laws. Those that have decriminalized cannabis (Portugal and The Netherlands) have experienced a decrease in use. Forcing users to go underground for their supply only cuts out the age restrictions inherent in a legal market. Go up to the closest relative you have who is between 14 and 18 years old. Tell them you will give them $100 if they can come back with either a 6 pack pf beer or a bag of weed. See which is easier for them to procure. If we aren't reducing use, imprisonment is immoral.
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        May 20 2012: ‎"Go up to the closest relative you have who is between 14 and 18 years old. Tell them you will give them $100 if they can come back with either a 6 pack of beer or a bag of weed. See which is easier for them to procure."

        This should be the rallying cry for legalization.
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        May 20 2012: I am going to have to disagree. I mean sure you can show studies that say that marijuana is not addictive but I have seen plenty of cases that could be easily argued. Yes, it is not chemically addictive like we would see in normal drugs, but it can take over peoples lives. There are plenty of cases where people become dependent on it to function "normally" and without it they display abnormal amounts of anger and aggression towards others, but they have become so dependent on it that the only way to function in society is with it. But on the more general question, I think that if it were to ever be fully legalized it would have to be on a regional or state basis (like what is being done now). I don’t think that it will every be nationally recognized as legal because there are just some parts of the country that will never allow for this to happen in their state. No matter where you go there will always be protest either way but I think that the protest against it once it is legalized will always be strong than the protest for it when it is not.
        • May 20 2012: The word 'addictive' gets thrown around far too often and once someone drops the 'A' word, many people will assume you mean physically addictive like heroin. There is a difference between drugs that are physically addictive (alcohol, tobacco and caffeine) and drugs that are not physically addictive like marijuana though. Namely, withdrawal symptoms.

          No one that understands the distinction between something being physically addictive and something being mentally addictive would try and argue that marijuana isn't addictive. Marijuana is strictly a mentally addictive substance though. The reason this isn't necessarily important is because almost everything in life can be mentally addictive, including reading books, playing sports, watching television, playing video games, skydiving, gambling, exercising and even sex. Also, just because something is mentally addictive doesn't mean that a person can't suffer withdrawal symptoms. The type and severity of those withdrawal symptoms are what separates it from substances that your body chemically becomes dependent upon.
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          May 21 2012: Regarding physical addiction there are several published papers that suggest THC is physically addictive. University of Wollongong 2008 for example. It can take up to 2 weeks for brain function to return to normal after THC exposure. Also long term users experience permanent physical changes to their brains. In some respects this is worse than heroin.
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          May 21 2012: Sorry Theresa, The reason it won't ever be legal (again) in the USA is that if it were legal the manufacturers of anti-depressants and nylon rope, and wood pulp for paper would be put out of business. If there is one thing I've learned in my 50+years in this country it's this: The government will protect corporate profits AT ALL COSTS!... Don't believe me check out this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_history_of_cannabis_in_the_United_States#Marijuana_Tax_Act_.281937.29

          Then do some research on how the S&L Scandal in the 1980's went down; Then do some research on the how we got into this economic mess... and IGNORE anything Faux News has to say.. They lie loudly and continuously!
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          May 21 2012: Kris I do appreciate the economic arguement but how does that apply to countries like France for example or Australia. Its still illegal even though their is no paper rope or pharmaceutical industry to lobby. Plus the hemp you use for rope and the hemp you smoke are different plants.
      • May 22 2012: Bei Norton,

        Thank you for bringing up the subject of ease of availability for minors. One of the strongest arguments against the legalization of marijuana is that legalization will increase the amount of a "harmful" substance reaching minors, however, the exact opposite is true. I will personally attest to this being a person between the ages of 14 to 18.
    • May 19 2012: What are the reasons for dependence on any essence or doing for that matter? This beautiful plant is a work of art and is accused of human misbehavior for no reason.

      Always seek for reasons and solve them. And the reasons for dependencies are.....???

      Kathleen please, don't accuse the nature. Rather start with society we live in and people who were brought into this mess. Try to change the reasons for the abuse. Can you do it?

      This cold help you on your way:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z9WVZddH9w

      This one is a real provider - don't stop at first minute.

      It is not the hemp that destroys families ... the society and the pressure, money, bad parenting (again bad education, lack of interest, money), overall environment pressure (the school or educational system), layoffs. That is just to much for many people. Their number is growing daily. Remove those reasons ... The amount of abusers of any substance will decrease substantially and very, very fast.
    • May 20 2012: Hi Katheen,

      I'm sympathetic with your position, but consider my position below. You are apparently a University student or staff person, and realize there are some trade offs in life whether we like it or not. I think this is one of them.

      I have an issue with legalized medical marijuana only. It makes it all the more difficult for law enforcement to control illegal activity, because it gives savvy operators all the more cover to sell it illegally. So the existing problem only gets worse.

      Our government is deeply involved in legalize gambling. We had police vice squads to stamp out this activity at one time. Obviously, there are many direct and indirect victims here too.

      You may feel the same way about alcohol, but prohibition was tried and it did not work. The fact is, promoting individual responsibility for those you care about is all you can do. Individuals must ultimately account for themselves, especially, as they become adults. I realize there are innocent victims who can be violated as a result of this activity. This part of the problem is best address by serious sanctions and of course, this can occur whether it is legal or not.

      For what its worth, I share your concerns, but have come to support total legalization.
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    May 19 2012: What kind of message of does the use of cannabis- even as a medicine- send to our children? Perhaps patients that have children- some that use cannabis legally, some that use illegally?
    • May 20 2012: Neil,

      You make a valid point. The legalization of marijuana, even if just for medicinal uses, will make parents more likely to be open about their marijuana use, which would greatly influence the children's perception of the drug. While I believe that marijuana does have medicinal benefits, I think that the increased accessibility with its legalization for medicinal purposes could result in increased problems with recreational use. While many argue that it is completely hypocritical for alcohol to be legal and marijuana to be illegal, I think that there are some striking differences in the circumstances in which people find it acceptable to smoke or drink. From personal experience, I do not know anyone who, especially when sober, is supportive of people driving while intoxicated from alcohol consumption while I know a wide range of people who find it perfectly acceptable to drive while high (here are the obvious extremes in the spectrum with people who struggle with alcohol addiction who drink in many inappropriate situations). No matter what people say about marijuana, it is still a drug that influences your perception, reflux time and judgment. Thus, someone under the influence of marijuana who is driving a car is putting people in danger and it should not be acceptable. Education on these issues will becoming increasingly important if kids see or know of their parents cannabis use, as they will find it more attractive and acceptable.
  • May 18 2012: The pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly, manufactured a synthetic form of THC which gained approval for the intractable pain of cancer. It has been evaluated by the Canadian pharmacovigilance institution; people who are usually without any vested interest in letting untested drugs be released onto the Canadian marketplace (Nabilone/Cesamet was Eli Lilly's preparation) when it concerns the long term safety of Canadians.

    http://tinyurl.com/ccuo7dk

    It transpired that under one arm of testing the drug on dogs, sudden collapse and death was a feature. Read about it at the following URL:

    http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/nabilone

    Presumably, the use of the natural herbal form of cannabis will not kill people and may be helpful in suppressing intractable pain.
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    May 17 2012: If we are prepared to legalize cannabis use for the sake of those who prefer a natural remedy to a pill how do we not legalize opium for the same reason? While opium is perceived as a much worse potential problem, we all use opiates without even thinking about it. How about we legalize posession but keep the laws against cultivation. That way you can freely smoke whatever you find growing naturally. It might get teenage boys out of their rooms and into the bush (that's Australian for forrest).
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    May 17 2012: I agree with Rishi, that we are past the acceptance of the use of marijuana for medicinal use because it, or its active components are available through prescription. It seems that the debate on legalizing marijuana is controversial for reasons other than the medicinal use otherwise these resources would not be available through prescription. The debate to legalize marijuana needs to move from the dead beaten horse of medicine, to the other uses and possibly comparing it to other recreational substances that are legal like alcohol.
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      May 21 2012: I agree with this view also. There have been enough studies on marijuana to show that it can have medicinal uses for certain people, and the debate needs to transition to making it recreational. Alcohol is legal and can have much worse effects on a person than marijuana can, depending on usage. People need to realize its potential as an income for our country via taxes and get over the fact that its a drug and a lot of people like to use it.
  • May 17 2012: Reasoning about rights should always begin with the idea of complete freedom. Complete freedom implies that it is legal to smoke any substance that people would want. However, if people are going to live together in a society, it is inevitable that some of this complete freedom must be limited. Although restricting our freedom in some way or another is inevitable, there are going to have to be very good reasons to do so. What are good reasons? Well, I do not think that can be determined a priori. Suffice to say for now that good reasons need not be theoretically sound, although this would be better, but may be very practical in nature. After all, the world is a practical place.

    So what are the reasons to restrict marijuana use? Since it’s drugs, I assume addiction would be the primary argument. In fact, I cannot think of any other (feel free to make them if you like). Obviously marijuana addiction is a bad thing, but it does not appear that the risk of marijuana addiction justifies making marijuana use completely illegal. The fact is that marijuana is not a very addictive, little (if any) more than drinking, gambling, gaming, sex, smoking, eating or any other pleasurable activity. Moreover, the practical consequences of marijuana addiction are rather small on a societal scale: it does not lead to widespread apathy, anarchy, casualties, etc. So both the risks and consequences of marijuana addiction for society are very minimal. In addition, the positive effects of the freedom to buy marijuana legally (e.g. less hard drug use, less crime, etc.) should also be noted. Taking into account these arguments, the only rational conclusion is that marijuana use and sale should be legal, although it would probably be good to impose some safety restrictions on marijuana sale similar to those that are already in place for alcohol.

    Given the argument above, it really doesn't matter anymore whether marijuana is used as a medicine, a pain killer, a relaxant or whatever.
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    May 17 2012: Cannibis is not from space,mars or the moon.It is a plant, just like any other plant before man demonised it. Whether it has been demonised for a good reason is a discussion for another day;
    If it has medicinal quality and could be a succour in certain medical conditions, then it has earned a good reason for its acceptance.
    We should not be too focussed on debates on life-and-death issues.Millions of Rwandans died in April 1994 because of such debates.
    If Cannibis helps in the delivery of quality health service, then let it be.
    But if its only contribution to the society is its boost of pleasure and pain, I would rather have it criminalized.