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Local Voices: Mike O'Neil: Legalized Marijuana Would Claim Victims

Newspaper article News Sentinel

Local Voices: Mike O'Neil: Legalized Marijuana Would Claim Victims

Article excerpt

Now that states have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use under the disguise of saving the taxpayers millions of dollars in law enforcement costs and other pseudo-safety arguments, many local Tennesseans are clamoring for the legalization of marijuana so they, too, can take advantage of this so-called legal breakthrough.

Good, evidence-based medical trials supporting use of medical marijuana have been limited in number but are now slowly being published in the medical literature. There are some very select treatment populations that have impressive treatment responses to medical marijuana, such as refractory seizures in pediatric patients and even more recently chronic pain patients with opioid-resistant nonmalignant pain. Both populations are in desperate need of effective treatments.

A few other diseases, such as anxiety, depression and patients with significantly suppressed appetites because of cancer, HIV or other debilitating diseases and/or drug treatments, are being critically evaluated. This research certainly needs to happen.

The availability of medical marijuana should produce more critical trials evaluating the true benefits. So why haven't the national pharmaceutical and medical associations endorsed these efforts?

A few of the answers are actually quite basic.

First and foremost, the major route of partaking in marijuana is by smoking. With more than 20 years of experience working with law enforcement to track and detect illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin, I have never seen a joint with a filter. So how can anyone reasonably support smoking something that delivers eight to nine times the quantity of carcinogens, toxins and respiratory irritants seen in a single cigarette?

Pharmaceutical compounding has made oral THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) consumption or vaporized administration a more aesthetically palatable and safer route of administration. The fact remains that most people who partake in marijuana smoke it -- including our young teens. People have grown marijuana for years in their own homes, and smoking it is probably the most potent way to administer this drug.

Now, about that money taxpayers will save by not "wasting it" on law enforcement efforts. Medical costs for respiratory diseases for adults and their children will likely soar. Asthma-related events, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, respiratory infections, etc. are likely to lead the list as causes for medical office visits. …

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