Saturday, December 05, 2009

It's time to legalize medical marijuana

Hi everyone,

Thanks to Andy Montgomery for kick starting this column.

Saturday's column.

Shedding light on marijuana bogeyman

For decades, Jacki Rickert has suffered with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (a defect in the development of connective tissue that results in weak joints subject to easy dislocation) and Advanced Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (also known as complex regional pain syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes chronic pain in the skin, joints, and bones).

Both illnesses are debilitating; neither is curable.

In May 1990, Jacki was approved by the federal government to receive medical marijuana under the Compassionate Use Investigational New Drug Program. The state of Wisconsin followed suit in December 1990. It’s 19 years later and no medical marijuana was provided. Ever since, Jacki has wondered: “Is my medicine legal yet?”

Medical marijuana bills have been introduced into the Wisconsin Legislature since 2001 but, this year, a bill called the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act has been put before the Wisconsin Legislature, introduced in Senate Bill 368 and Assembly Bill 554.

The question is, will Wisconsin finally join the 13 other states with medical marijuana laws on their books – including Michigan where, just last year, a similar bill was passed? It’s possible. This year, Jacki may finally get the medical marijuana thenpresidential candidate Bill Clinton promised her in 1990.

Rep. Pocan, a sponsor of the Assembly bill, explained that the Obama administration’s recent change in enforcement policy and a turnabout on marijuana by the American Medical Association (which now supports reviewing marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 controlled substance in order to begin serious, medically driven research) make passing the bill more likely than in previous years.

In addition to the recent endorsement by the AMA and the Wisconsin Public Health Association, the Wisconsin Nurses Association came out strongly in favor of the 2005 version, introduced into the Assembly by then-Rep. Gregg Underheim (R-Oshkosh).

Not everyone in Madison is happy. Rep. Leah Vukmir, although a nurse, finds herself opposing both the AMA and her own professional association when she claims to be worried about safety issues. While still chair of the Health and Healthcare Reform Committee (now in the hands of John Richards, D-19th district, a former volunteer with Mother Teresa), she told the press that “she believes it is better for patients to use medications that have been approved or may soon be available than to have people grow their own marijuana.”

The safety of “approved medications” is no longer comforting. Concerns about the “safety” of marijuana might be prudent, but are a bit ludicrous when you consider that our pharmaceutical industry is currently conducting the greatest unregulated experiment in altering consciousness in the history of our species. Think of the children popping Ritalin and Adderall like Skittles. Think of the recalls and class action suits under way, all the result of “approved medications.” The same federal agencies that approved those drugs listed marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance. To put that into perspective, PCP and methamphetamine are Schedule II.

Makes me wonder whether the people who made this decision were high at the time.

The safety issue becomes even clearer when you consider that, in 2000, adverse reactions to prescription drugs killed around 32,000 Americans, aspirin (yes, aspirin) killed nearly 7,600, and marijuana killed – nobody. No scientific literature links marijuana with mortality.

But hey, safety and science be damned. Show me the money.

In 2004, when William F. Buckley supported legalization in the pages of the National Review, he noted that the approximately 700,000 arrests for possession each year – generally for small amounts, not trafficking – cost the U.S. taxpayer $10 billion to $15 billion. More remarkable is how much tax revenue medical marijuana could generate. In 2005 economists at Harvard estimated that legalization would save “$7.7 billion per year in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition,“ $5.3 billion of which would go back to state and local governments. They also estimated that legalization could generate $6.2 billion annually if marijuana were taxed at rates similar to alcohol or tobacco. In the state-by-state breakdown, Wisconsin stood to make $13 million to $15 million a year. That’s a lot of new kindergarten teachers.

While Rep. Vukmir may remain opposed for what must be religious, if not scientific reasons, her most conservative colleague in the state Senate has not joined her. Sen. Glenn Grothman, when asked about the bill reportedly said he has not made up his mind yet, “but is inclined to vote for it unless someone gives him a good reason not to. ... It wouldn’t shock me if I vote for it,” Grothman said.

It is a pleasure to see Sen. Grothman agreeing with real conservatives, like the late Mr. Buckley, who well understood that you don’t make a bogeyman go away by burying yourself even deeper under the quilts of your own ignorance. You make the bogeyman go away by turning the lights on.

For an interesting read on all of this, check out MAPS.



zulfiya77 said...

Great article; keep them coming.

I am still surprised state and federal lawmakers continue the drug war against Marijuana despite the facts and the costs. But then it's difficult to face the public and the herd and say, "We are wrong, we have needlessly wasted billions of dollars and disrupted millions of lives." Kind of like the nuclear weapons build-up during the cold war, eh? These are great examples of where money would have been put to better use if it had never been taken from the taxpayers.

Marijuana Not A Gateway To Hard Drug Use, Rand Study Says

Joycelyn Elders, MD, former US Surgeon General, stated in a Dec. 14, 2002: "Much of their [US drug-policy leaders] rhetoric about marijuana being a 'gateway drug' is simply wrong. After decades of looking, scientists still have no evidence that marijuana causes people to use harder drugs. If there is any true 'gateway drug,' it's tobacco."

Dec. 14, 2002 - Joycelyn Elders, MD

kevin scheunemann said...

I'm agreeing with Grothman, Buckley, & Peterson on the same issue....

methinks the Apocalypse is at hand.

After I repent, I'm going to jump on the Grothman, Buckley, & Peterson bandwagon on this.

Great article.

Praising Grothman on 2 blogs...can a Peterson campaign check to Grothman be far behind?

Anonymous said...

Regardless, there are still dangerous consequences to rampant uncontrolled marijuana use.

It's on the right track though. It should be legalized for medicinal purposes, and I'm not even entirely against it being legalized for personalized use as long as it has an enforced age limit, preferably 21, and out of "public places."

merry poppings said...


"The same federal agencies that approved those drugs listed marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance."

I did not realize there was more than one single agency that dealt with how a drug was scheduled or not.
Do both of those agencies also decide on what drugs are approved?

Or are we talking about two different entities here?

If that is the case, well, I never could have guessed our federal government could be so....tranquilized.

In fact, you sound quite confused yourself. Sure you don't need something for that?

Anonymous said...

"In 2004, when William F. Buckley supported legalization in the pages of the National Review, he noted that the approximately 700,000 arrests for possession each year – generally for small amounts, not trafficking – cost the U.S. taxpayer $10 billion to $15 billion."

I'm still up in the air about this topic. But, I did want to point out the flaw in this argument. How would the legalization of marijuana make any significant impact on the number of arrests each year. Are we to assume that any large portion of those 700,000 arrests are people who would qualify for medical marijuana use? I think not.

Mark, for those who want to legalize medical marijuana, what types of people/diseases would qualify? Are the plans to open up marijuana for anyone with chronic pain?

I also have to disagree with the other poster about marijuana not being a gateway drug. There are studies that lean to both sides of the argument but, attending West Bend high school, marijuana and alcohol are the "starter" drugs of choice and prescription pain killers, ecstasy, and other narcotics become the standard as you approach senior year. Studies may say one thing but I have seen this all first hand.

One last thing Mark: I have a suggestion for a future article. I think more people need to be tuned into the high use of narcotic drugs in this area. Heroin, oxycontin, methadone, and other drugs are taking a huge toll on families in the area. A recent 2006 West Bend graduate just passed away from an overdose. This isn't a new type of tragedy either. This has been happening to my graduating class since high school. Add to that all the inmates in the local jail for drugs (I'm not talking about marijuana) and the families that are suffering from this stuff daily and you have got yourself a very important topic to cover. Instead of everyone living in the dark about this stuff or assuming that their families are immune from addiction, they need to be aware of what is going on.

Mpeterson said...

Grin. Lots of little things got cut to keep the column to proper length. For drug scheduling, check out this: DEA Drug Scheduling

Look for marijuana's technical equivalents.

Mpeterson said...

Note to Anonymous:

Quite right on all counts... although it's important to note that the studies indicating marijuana use as a gateway drug are usually emphasized by the Feds, rather than the numerous other studies which indicate most people do NOT move on from marijuana to harder stuff...

And people my age (50 and up) are usually shocked to hear about how prevalent narcotic use is in local high schools... we read backwards to happier and less dangerous times in the 60's and 70's. For instance, I'd never even heard of Skittling until a few months ago!

And because someone is sure to ask, my only recreational drug use involves caffeine and an occasional glass of wine. :)

kevin scheunemann said...

I know its hard to believe...but I admit it...

my caffeine problem is out of control and I have no intention of stopping.

I can't help but think that busy body Leah Vukmir will eventually get in my face about it.

(This is by no means a waiver of needed criticism busy body Democrats, simply because I did not name them.)

Anonymous said...

BTW - A instant-detector was created in the 1980s for apprehending those who ingest marijuana and drive, although, drivings tests involving Marijuana indicated far fewer issues driving than drunk drivers (Not that it's right).

Not the most trustworthy source for info, but this particular information is sound: The Marijuana Conspiracy - The Real Reason Hemp is Illegal, by Doug Yurchey, June 15, 2005

* 80% of all textiles, fabrics, clothes, linen, drapes, bed sheets, etc. were made from hemp until the 1820s with the introduction of the cotton gin.

* The first Bibles, maps, charts, Betsy Ross's flag, the first drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were made from hemp; U.S. Government Archives.

* In 1916, the U.S. Government predicted that by the 1940s all paper would come from hemp and that no more trees need to be cut down. Government studies report that 1 acre of hemp equals 4.1 acres of trees. Plans were in the works to implement such programs; Department of Agriculture

* Quality paints and varnishes were made from hemp seed oil until 1937. 58,000 tons of hemp seeds were used in America for paint products in 1935; Sherman Williams Paint Co. testimony before Congress against the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act.

* Henry Ford's first Model-T was built to run on hemp gasoline and the CAR ITSELF WAS CONTRUCTED FROM HEMP! On his large estate, Ford was photographed among his hemp fields. The car, 'grown from the soil,' had hemp plastic panels whose impact strength was 10 times stronger than steel; Popular Mechanics, 1941.

* William Randolph Hearst (Citizen Kane) and the Hearst Paper Manufacturing Division of Kimberly Clark owned vast acreage of timberlands. The Hearst Company supplied most paper products. Patty Hearst's grandfather, a destroyer of nature for his own personal profit, stood to lose billions because of hemp.

In 1937, Dupont patented the processes to make plastics from oil and coal. Dupont's Annual Report urged stockholders to invest in its new petrochemical division. Synthetics such as plastics, cellophane, celluloid, methanol, nylon, rayon, Dacron, etc., could now be made from oil. Natural hemp industrialization would have ruined over 80% of Dupont's business.

On April 14, 1937, the Prohibitive Marihuana Tax Law or the bill that outlawed hemp was directly brought to the House Ways and Means Committee. This committee is the only one that can introduce a bill to the House floor without it being debated by other committees. The Chairman of the Ways and Means, Robert Doughton, was a Dupont supporter. He insured that the bill would pass Congress.

mary popping said...

"Grin. Lots of little things got cut to keep the column to proper length. For drug scheduling, check out this: DEA Drug Scheduling

Look for marijuana's technical equivalent"

it's actually not technical or little, either.

you conflate two distinct government agencies to point out that our government approves all kinds of bad pharmaceuticals but that grass is illegal.

Mpeterson said...

Well, I'd understood that both DEA and FDA look after all of this as a result of the Controlled Substances Act. That's why I used a plural and, if this is correct, it's not really a conflation of agencies. What agencies do you mean?

But yeah, the feds have an aversion to grass that makes more sense from a pathological than medical, or even political, point of view.

...fragile isn't it..... said...


you are right about that pathological part.
there is a wealth of evidence(most of it recent)that this is a dangerous drug, possibly even fatal;
hell, I won't even WALK on the grass(unlike Tiger Woods).

look, i hate to mix metaphors like a bag of skittles, but lets cut the crap (as narcotics were originally intended for)and get to the point were this all gets injected into the cultural zeitgeist, thirsty as it is for a real acid-test of whether or not ending the war on drugs is just a tooting of the horns by primo politicians e.ager to blunt a...

oh my, I must stop myself now; I am having too much fun;please don't tell the DEA or the FDA (although to be honest those rednecks at the ATF don't haze me).

Anonymous said...

I thought skittling was what Jimi did before his shows-just reach right in to that bag of random pills and take a fistful.but it is actually dextromethorphan, a common cold-medicine ingredient.

skittling is the perfect example of how the DEA and the FDA fail to work together and dangerous drugs fall through the cracks. It's total anarchy.

The manager and the pharamicist at Walgreens become the police, the DEA, the FDA.

I can think of other examples.

Mpeterson said...

I'm with you... I think the Wikipedia entries are behind the times... it was explained to me by age appropriate people who knew... and their definition matches yours. Coricidin is what you get if you don't get any possible combination of whatever anyone can lift from their medicine cabinets at home which, these days, contain any number of toxins.