OPINION – Although the proposal is extremely limited in scope, the Utah Legislature is turning a number of heads by becoming the latest state to consider legalization of a form of medicinal marijuana.
The Legislature, led by Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, is exploring the possibility of allowing the use of a cannabis oil – a liquid, purified form of cannabidiol, or CBD, a nonpsychoactive component of marijuana – to treat children with a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome.
Froerer is working with a group called Hope 4 Children With Epilepsy, which was founded by four Mormon moms.
“If there’s anyone who can do it, it’s conservative Mormon moms from Utah,” the organization’s cofounder, Jennifer May, told a reporter from The Huffington Post.
As a longtime supporter of the legalization of marijuana, I am pleased to see some progressive thought on this matter, although I wonder if the idea would have gained traction if it was put forward by liberal Jewish dads.
The prohibition of marijuana has always been steeped in cultural, ethnic, and economic reasoning rather than hard science; it dates back to the beef between megalomaniac newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and Pancho Villa, whose army had seized a 1 million-acre timber farm that belonged to the Hearst family in Mexico.
Hearst, who made no effort to disguise his racism against Mexicans and African-Americans, was at the heart of the “Reefer Madness” attitude toward marijuana that has permeated this country ever since.
There is plenty of hard scientific evidence today that proves marijuana has definite medicinal qualities to help those suffering from a number of major illnesses from chronic pain to cancer.
Researchers have developed a synthesized version of marijuana that is available in the state of Utah for cancer and AIDS patients called marinol. The problem, of course, is that it only comes in heavy doses and is quite expensive. I had a friend who was given marinol while undergoing chemotherapy and reported that it worked, but that the dosage was such that in addition to easing the nausea and loss of appetite, marinol also created a massive “high” that left her unable to function normally.
The argument for the use of the natural herb as opposed to the synthesized drug is that the patient can control the dosage for maximum effect without the side effects. Still, marinol is listed as a Schedule III controlled substance, a drug with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Marijuana, meanwhile, is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance, along with heroin by the way, and categorized among the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence, which we know is simply not true.
Why a synthesized version of marijuana, with the same effects and properties, would be classified differently is a mystery.
And, as we are learning, the abuse of prescription drugs is a growing problem nationwide. While it is fact that more people are using marijuana illicitly, nobody has ever died from a marijuana overdose. The same cannot be said about Lortab, Demerol, Vicodin, or other prescription meds, which is another reason why the prohibition of marijuana as a medicinal or recreational substance, is ludicrous.
I was very surprised when I learned that the Utah Legislature was actually going to look at this extremely limited use of medicinal marijuana. The cultural aspects of life in Utah, I believed, would make it one of the last states to investigate, let alone consider, such law.
I mean, there are 20 states, plus the District of Columbia, where you can legally use medpot for a variety of maladies. There are two – Colorado and Washington – that have legalized it for recreational use as well.
According to the latest Gallup Poll, 58 percent of all Americans favor legalization of the herb, giving it its highest approval rate ever. We’ve only elected six presidents with higher numbers.
There will be, undoubtedly, a lifting of this prohibition at some point, even if it is only from the economical standpoint of regulating and taxing the herb and putting it to other uses, such as hemp paper, clothing, fuel, and the like in a renewable crop that is inexpensive and easy to grow.
But, it all has to start somewhere and even though the scope of the proposed Utah bill is extremely narrow, allowing the use of only one derivative drug with one small purpose, it is a start and, hopefully, will help those children.
Then, perhaps, the slow process of cultural change can kick in and Utahns will see the benefits of the herb and put political and societal prejudices aside.
No bad days!
- Perspectives: Reconsidering medical marijuana laws
- County Sheriff destroys pot farm on Cedar Mountain
- Utah Media grow marijuana-grow busting
- Authorities remove 4,000 marijuana plants in Iron County
- Tip Leads to Marijuana Grow, Eradicated Without Arrest
- Two arrested in Littlefield for growing marijuana
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.