Letters: Proposition 203 (medical marijuana) - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Letters: Proposition 203 (medical marijuana)

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Posted: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 11:30 am | Updated: 10:05 pm, Sat Oct 30, 2010.

Proposition 203 is not about the medical use of marijuana. That’s right. In fact, many people who support medical marijuana are against 203 because it’s downright deceptive.

Prop 203 is backed by the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-drug lobby whose only aim is to legalize pot. In other states with this law, only 2-3 percent of the marijuana goes to the seriously ill. The rest goes mostly to people who are under age 40 and in fine health.

It’s intentionally written to sound like medical care when it’s really just a ruse to legalize pot. In San Diego, teenagers are prescribed six times as much medical marijuana as people with glaucoma, cancer and AIDS combined.

Besides, the Glaucoma Foundation, American Cancer Society and National Multiple Sclerosis Society warn patients not to use marijuana because it can make their conditions worse.

Much of the medical advice in Prop 203 is actually harmful.

States with medical marijuana laws have more traffic fatalities from pot-smoking drivers and higher rates of teen drug use, and those kids do worse in school. If Prop 203 passes, Arizona is estimated to see 20-40 additional highway deaths and around 2,000 additional school drop-outs every year.

The Arizona Academy of Pediatrics, all 15 county attorneys and sheriffs, both U.S. Senators, both candidates for governor and politicians from both parties have urged people to vote against this phony medical marijuana law. It will harm our youth, and make our roads more dangerous.

And it’s not about medical care.

Ed Gogek, M.D., Prescott

This year, 252,000 signatures were submitted to the Secretary of State by petition to put the medical marijuana initiative on the ballot. Proposition 203 is the only proposition appearing on the ballot this year by citizen's initiative.

Since the appearance of Proposition 203 on the 2010 ballot, the opposition has made effort to sway votes by launching ads depicting scenes of supposedly marijuana-related crash collisions resulting in fatality as well as statements that raise concerns about how the passing of Proposition 203 may influence our youth.

What the opposition fails to see is the unique qualities about the proposed legislation. In reality, the proposition entails strict regulations on the circumstances of the use of medical marijuana and on the conduct of its distribution.

For example, there are caps on quantities such as the amount of allowable marijuana for a patient to obtain or cultivate, and a cap on the number of dispensaries. Also, the proposition does not legalize the use of marijuana in public or work places or the operation of motor vehicles while under the influence.

The facts are as follows: Marijuana can benefit individuals who suffer from cancer, glaucoma, HIV, lateral sclerosis and other debilitating or life-threatening conditions.

Legalizing medical marijuana will directly affect such individuals' quality of life. By no means is it just to prohibit these individuals from receiving the medical attention they need when it comes to the matter of their life.

ChristiAnne Lunsford, Gilbert

Proposition 203 would be very beneficial to the people of Arizona and also for Arizona’s economy. This proposition proposes to legalize medical marijuana, which is exactly what people need. To start, patients in severe pain are often prescribed pain medication, which can be very addicting even if doctor regulated. There is proof that marijuana is not physically addicting. Not only is it not physically addicting, but it is impossible to overdose, as with pain medications. Medical marijuana can be used to treat severe pain, as well as depression, anorexia and many other medical conditions. There is a wide variety of uses for medical marijuana, which is why Proposition 203 should be passed.

If medical marijuana were to be legalized in Arizona, then that would be a step in the right direction for the complete legalization of marijuana.  The world is in an effort to go green. How is this completely possible if everyday thousands of trees are knocked down and used for paper and other items? Sources say that the marijuana plant is one of the only plants that can grow above eight feet in the matter of a couple of months. If the marijuana plant was used to make paper items then our rain forests wouldn’t be deprived of trees and animals would not be losing their homes on a daily basis. Also, this would be helpful to the economy. Marijuana would be able to be taxed which would create new revenue for the U.S.

Jacqueline Levy, Tempe

There’s a reason we let the FDA do its job and don’t make medical decisions by popular vote. Proposition 203, called medical marijuana, says marijuana is for people with glaucoma, cancer and multiple sclerosis. However, the organizations that research these diseases disagree.

In its latest newsletter, the Glaucoma Foundation said:

“Medical experts believe that marijuana could actually prove harmful for glaucoma patients. Marijuana only lowers (intraocular) pressure for several hours, requiring patients to continuously medicate day and night. Failing to do so can lead to a rebound spike in eye pressure, which can be damaging.”

They also say marijuana can decrease blood flow to the optic nerve, speeding up the damage that leads to loss of vision.

In other words, using marijuana can make glaucoma worse and even cause patients to go blind sooner. The American Cancer Society and National Multiple Sclerosis Society also say marijuana can be harmful and so they don’t recommend its use, either.

If Prop 203 passes, bad medical advice, in fact, dangerous medical advice will become state law. And since ballot measures are protected in Arizona, the legislature will not be able to correct this.

If the people who run the Marijuana Policy Project had any social conscience, they would apologize and withdraw this proposition. Instead, they are knowingly handing out bad medical advice that could hurt people.

The people of Arizona should reject any attempt to make health care decisions by popular vote. For our health and safety, please vote no on Proposition 203.

Lawrence Wilson, M.D., Prescott

Arizona finds itself divided on one of the most controversial issues on this year’s ballot — Proposition 203, which calls for legalization of medicinal marijuana. I believe most Arizona voters are not fully aware of this bill’s implications. Marijuana is a legitimate medical option for lessening terminally-ill patients’ pain. Proposition 203, however, does not address the negative side effects inherent of its passage.

In order to legally obtain marijuana under Prop 203, an individual must be granted a medical marijuana card — provided the individual demonstrates severe medical need. Any cardholder can operate aircraft, watercraft and automobiles with marijuana metabolites in their system without facing DUI charges. In addition, if an employee who possesses a card tests positive for marijuana in the workplace, they experience no repercussions. The number of individuals operating vehicles or working while under the influence will noticeably increase; public safety will be compromised.

“Severe pain,” listed in Prop 203 as one stipulation for acquiring a card, is very difficult to evaluate with medical certainty. In other medical marijuana states, “patients” often lie about their pain levels. The Arizona Department of Health Services (which opposes Prop 203) will have to ensure that only legitimate patients receive marijuana for medicinal use. Inevitably, more manpower and funding will be required. The ADHS may have to foot this bill; the money would likely come out of other ADHS programs. I urge Arizona voters to vote no on Proposition 203. A bill without these glaring liabilities can and should be crafted.

Sean Schaefer, Chandler

Currently 14 states in the U.S. have passed laws that allow medical marijuana prescribed by a doctor. In November, Arizona could become the 15th. Proposition 203, if passed, will allow residents of Arizona with certain illnesses to be prescribed marijuana. In my opinion this is definitely a good thing.

Proposition 203 will bring many benefits to people in need of marijuana’s medicinal properties. People with cancer, AIDs, Alzheimer’s and Hepatitis C could get the medicine they need without having to worry about getting arrested.’  Many doctors recommend their patients marijuana even though they cannot get it legally.’  Voting yes could take a market away from illegal drug cartels possibly resulting in less crime. 

The concern for the opposition is that marijuana would become too easy to obtain. Unlike California where it is extremely easy to get medical marijuana, it would be strictly regulated in Arizona. Marijuana would not be attainable if you didn’t need it. The number of marijuana dispensaries would be heavily regulated.

The DEA’s Administrative Law Judge, Francis Young stated, “Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.” If a doctor can prescribe other addictive and dangerous drugs such as types of amphetamines, then why can’t they prescribe something that our own DEA deemed as safe? There is a reason that other states have voted yes to medical marijuana and it is time that Arizona follows suit.

Colton Boesch, Tempe

Letters policy: Click here to submit a letter. Please be brief (no more than 300 words) and type or print name, address, city and phone number for verification. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.Your chance to sound off: E-mail Vent submissions to vent@evtrib.com

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