Our View: Red herrings

Editor’s note: Craig City Attorney Kenny Wohl did not discuss this editorial with the board because of a conflict of interest.

Craig Editorial Board, October 2009 to January 2010

  • Bryce Jacobson, newspaper representative
  • Joshua Roberts, newspaper representative
  • Collin Smith, newspaper representative
  • Karen Knez, community representative
  • Ken Wergin, community representative
  • Kenny Wohl, community representative

For a while, it seemed the local medical marijuana issue would come and go without much attention.

That changed Nov. 10, the most recent Craig City Council meeting, when several residents made it clear they did not want marijuana use condoned in town.

Some said they opposed any use, even out of medical necessity. Others told the council that law enforcement would not be able to contain marijuana’s influence once it is allowed legally.

People were passionate, emotional and angry.

They have a right to be. Their opinions and values should be considered very carefully by the city’s elected officials, as should the opinions and values of those who own Craig’s only dispensary, the Craig Apothecary, and those who believe that marijuana may be the best medicine for painful illnesses and conditions.

The Editorial Board only hope that people will be able to control themselves as the City Council goes through its process of approving an ordinance to govern dispensaries.

Far too often, our country is thrown into heated, emotional arguments that threaten to derail our system of government.

Abortion. Gay marriage. The death penalty.

These issues affect very few people for the amount of time that goes into debating them.

This board hopes that the discussion around medical marijuana will not become the same kind of sludge that could halt meaningful action on other local issues, ones we think are more important, and ones that affect many more lives.

Methamphetamine addiction is out of control in Moffat County. It seems to be on every block of every street and in every apartment complex.

Cocaine use seems to be on the rise, and cocaine is a drug that actually attracts dangerous levels of organized crime because of its dollar value and surrounding culture.

Alcohol abuse fuels hundreds of violent crimes every year, from domestic assaults to child abuse to brutal street fights.

Public education is in dire need of more support. While it seems additional funding is a long way off, community involvement is free. We encourage residents to take hold of their children’s education and help our community’s teachers and school administrators develop our youth.

Not every member of this board has children, and we must concede that a person’s worldview changes dramatically when they are faced with that level of responsibility.

However, we cannot see medical marijuana being as important to this community as these other issues, especially considering the council’s proposed ordinance, which makes it expensive and difficult to open a dispensary within city limits.

We hope, in this case, that reason will win out, and that the community will turn to face its darkest demons, not the ones that are the easiest fodder.

Comments

applesaday 4 years, 5 months ago

Well said. I'm glad to hear the paper commenting on this issue. The Criag Dialy Press it the only local media (beyond radio), so its nice to hear a respected point of view.

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nativegirl 4 years, 5 months ago

I have a comment on medical marijuana being sold as a "prescription drug" by mom & pop dispensaries that are popping up all over the state.

I don't think this is exactly what the majority of pro-medical marijuana voters had in mind. I think the majority of voters who supported the medical use of marijuana believed that it would be dispensed exactly as all other prescription medications are dispensed. I also think that they voted in support of medical marijuana in sympathy for sick people who truly need relief for pain or symptoms that conventional prescription drugs did not help. I do not think that most people who voted for medical marijuana ever foresaw marijuana shops opening up in private homes in their neighborhoods.

If marijuana is indeed a prescription drug, it should be treated just like all other prescription drugs, should be subject to testing, standardized dosing, quality control, and should be dispensed only by licensed pharmacies.

Can anyone tell me, was this lack of regulation and unorthodox method of distributing a "prescription drug" addressed in the ballot issue and simply missed or misunderstood by the voters, or did our legislators allow this to happen after medical use of marijuana was voted in?

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applesaday 4 years, 5 months ago

Medical marijuana is NOT a prescription drug because it is not regulated by the FDA. Although many medical research groups are pettitioning congress to take it off the list schedule one drugs so that it can be better studied for its medical properties. ( @ nativegirl) I dont quite understand your last question,,, Amendment 20 was voted in for medical use only under a doctor reccomendation, and ANYONE with a doctor reccomendation can posess 2 ounces of raw marijuana, and unlimited amounts of edibles. That is how the law is written, and it hast changed in 10 years. I dont think it was a matter of voters being duped, or legislatiors somehow altering the law AFTER it was passed. Rather it is representing the mentality of the majority of voters, as with any passed constitutional amendment. I believe that the younger generation became more active voters, because they feel that it should be leaglized all around, and medical marijuana is a great stepping stone to achive outright legalization.

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nativegirl 4 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for the explanation applesaday. I am not convinced that younger voters were solely responsible for this passing, but that a lot of voters who are not necessarily "pro pot" for recreational use felt that it was an act of compassion to the sick to let them have this drug as an option for treatment.

I can't help but think that if the voters had been given a clear picture of how medical marijuana would be distributed that the vote might have well been very different. I guess what bothers me the most is that the people I have heard talking about this now FEEL duped; they see medical marijuana shops as "drug dealers", plain and simple. These are their words, their perceptions as they have expressed their concerns to me.

Given this viewpoint, I can see why there is anger in the community regarding this issue. I guess it's a little late to try to get the horse back into the barn, but I really believe if the medical marijuana proponents want to LEGITIMIZE marijuana as a drug therapy, perhaps the rules for distribution should be more conventional and that medical marijuana should be governed by the same regulations as any other "non-over the counter" drug. As it now stands, it just seems to much of the average non-marijuana smoking public that this was an end run around the law.

I think that if people in the mainstream are going to accept and respect marijuana as a medicinal treatment, we need to make sure that it is treated just like any other medicine. And in my humble opinion, allowing people to open marijuana shops far removed from licenced and regulated pharmacies is not the way to make that happen.

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hanginj 4 years, 5 months ago

Nativegirl If more people had the same "humble" opinion as yours there'd be less misinformation floating about.

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wm97 4 years, 5 months ago

Ok, some required reading for anyone who wants to offer an opinion.

First, the short history of the marijuana laws at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/whiteb1.htm This is funny and fascinating.

Licit and Illicit Drugs at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/cu/cumenu.htm The best overall review of the subject ever written. If you haven’t read this book, then you simply don’t know the subject.

The Drug Hang-Up at http://druglibrary.org/special/king/dhu/dhumenu.htm This is another excellent history of the subject.

Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer This is a collection of the full text of every major government commission report on the drug laws from around the world over the last 100 years. They all reached similar conclusions.

The drug laws were the product of ignorance and nonsense. In the US – which has driven worldwide drug prohibition for more than fifty years – the laws were the result of racism and lunacy so stupid that it just makes people laugh today.

Marijuana was originally outlawed for two major reasons. The first was because “All Mexicans are crazy and marijuana is what makes them crazy.” The second was the fear that heroin addiction would lead to the use of marijuana – exactly the opposite of the modern “gateway” idea.

Only two doctors testified before Congress for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. The representative of the American Medical Association testified that marijuana was not a dangerous drug and there was no reason for the law. See the full transcripts of the hearings for the MTA at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/taxact/taxact.htm

The only other doctor was Dr. James Munch. His sole claim to fame was that he had injected marijuana directly into the brains of 300 dogs, and two of them died. When they asked him what he concluded from this, he said he didn’t know. He also testified in court, under oath, that marijuana could make your fangs grow six inches long and drip with blood, and that it could turn you into a bat.

Dr. Munch was the only doctor in the US who thought that marijuana should be illegal so we was appointed US Official Expert on marijuana, where he served for 25 years.

That is just one example of the lunacy. There is far more than that in the history of these laws. Anyone who currently supports these laws simply hasn’t read the most basic research on the subject.

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wm97 4 years, 5 months ago

Nativegirl,

If anyone believed that marijuana would be sold as a prescription drug, like all the others, then they weren't paying attention. Marijuana cannot be a prescription drug because of the stance of the Federal Government. This is despite the fact that the US Federal Government issues medical marijuana itself.

That's right. The US Government, which claims that marijuana has no medical use, sends a big tin can full of 300 joints to a number of patients each month. The reason they do this is because some of those patients wen to court and proved to a legal certainty that marijuana is a medicine, and that it is the only medicine suitable for their needs.

So your complaint about it not being sold as a prescription medicine like all the others should be lodged with the US Federal Government. They are the hypocrites who are maintaining the black market in marijuana.

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nativegirl 4 years, 5 months ago

You know, I'm not so sure that's the case wm97. I seem to clearly remember seeing a piece on 60 Minutes or one of the other news shows back in the 80s about medicinal marijuana and it was prescribed by the patient's doctor, and it was dispensed to the patient in the story in the form of rolled cigarettes in a clear plastic case by the pharmacist. I distinctly remember that and how odd the thought seemed to me to think that someone in a laboratory somewhere was making marijuana cigarettes as medicine.

If they had the option to prescribe it at that time, then there must be some allowance in the law for that to have happened. I'll try to find out the particulars on that case, it was pretty interesting, but the point was that it was completely treated just like any other prescription.

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wm97 4 years, 5 months ago

Nativegirl, you are talking to someone who has studied the issue for more than forty years. In addition, I am the largest publisher of the major research on drug policy in the world. See http://druglibrary.org/schaffer

It is the Investigational New Drug program. It is a program supposed to be for experimental drugs. However, in the case of marijuana, the "investigation" has been going on for about thirty years. As stated, the reason the US Government did it was simply because they had no choice. They were in a situation where, if they went to court to try to deny it, they would just lose the case which would have meant that marijuana would have been generally available for medical use some thirty years ago. They didn't want to do that, so they allowed a limited number of people into an "investigational" program. That way, they still had control over who got it. These same people have been getting US Government medical marijuana ever since.

If this all sounds a bit loony-tunes to you, then you are beginning to catch on. Read the history of the marijuana laws and you will see that the laws have been absolute lunacy since Day One. The laws were passed by lunatics for reasons that simply make people laugh today.

The problem you are having trying to reason this out is that you are trying to make sense of something that was absolutely nuts to begin with. The Mad Hatter could not have done a more lunatic job with these laws.

As for modern medical marijuana, it just isn't a significant problem. If you want the proof of that, you can read all about how people are making millions off of the trade in Los Angeles. see http://MarijuanaBusinessNews.com

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daybyday 4 years, 5 months ago

What one sees as incidental or a red herring, another may see as just opening another tributary to a continually growing ocean of seeminly unmanageable problems. To be less concerned with the legalization of marijuana because meth addition is on the rise is taking a step back instead of forward, and I believe IS the red herring. How logical is it to say, "We have too many problems; let's legalize some and see how that goes." That the majority of marijuana users smoke to get high or stoned rather than smoke to relieve otherwise unmanageable pain, and to believe that legalization will somehow get them more involved in family, community and school...I'm sorry but I just don't see it. Abortion, gay marriage, the death penalty, marijuana...they are important issues to us all because affect us all.

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wm97 4 years, 5 months ago

daybyday, the part you missed is that marijuana prohibition was absolute lunacy from the very beginning. You are supporting something that was dreamed up by people who thought marijuana would turn you into a bat. Read the history linked above.

Every major study of the subject in the last 100 years has said that the marijuana laws were the product of racism, ignorance, and nonsense, and there never was a good reason to outlaw it.

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nativegirl 4 years, 5 months ago

Daybyday, I tend to agree with you that to label any one of these issues as a "red herring" is inappropriate. Each of these are problems we are dealing with and need to somehow find answers for.

And wm97, although I understand your point of view, I also understand that most people see marijuana as a drug that is largely used recreationally, and that the majority of people do not use, either for fun or as a medicine.

Now that it has been voted in, what the public is seeing in the news are apparently healthy, young people claiming vague illnesses (like headaches, or nausea for example) and they are being given the ok to smoke pot as a treatment that the voters were told was for the use of severely ill and dying people, not young, healthy people.

I think seeing cases like these make the entire medical marijuana issue seem to many people, forgive the pun, a smokescreen for people who simply like to get high to be able to buy and sell pot without consequences. Like it or not, this is what it looks like to many people watching the situation, and may explain why the public is angry over the whole issue, and why they do feel duped.

And, sorry wm, but the recreational use of marijuana is still illegal, whether we agree on why or how it was criminalized in the first place. So the specific issue here is this: Should we allow marijuana dispensaries in our neighborhoods or not? That is what people really have to decide at this point.

Frankly, I don't think the entire issue was thought through very well before it was presented to the voters, and what we have now is the resulting mess to clean up, one way or another.

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wm97 4 years, 5 months ago

Nativegirl, let's put a little thought to that medical-recreational thing. How do you tell the difference?

Let's say you go to the doctor and tell him that you have migraine headaches and the pain on a scale of 1 to 10 is a 10. How can your doctor determine that you really have that level of pain?

The fact is that he can't. There is no meter the doctor can hook up to you to tell whether your pain is a 1 or a 10. Ultimately, he just has to take your word for it.

Then suppose you tell him that you have tried all sorts of remedies and the only thing that helps is eating carrots and milk. That's pretty bizarre, but again, the doctor has no real way to verify what you say. He doesn't have a meter that can measure pain, either before or after carrots and milk.

The only thing the doctor can do in the long run is to determine whether carrots and milk might be harmful to you, and advise you to use them with care.

Therefore, the determination of whether marijuana use is "medical" or "recreational" is really up to the patient -- in consultation with their doctor. This is the standard established by the courts in California. If the patient can get a doctor to believe them, then the use is "medical" for all legal purposes.

Likewise, you -- as a concerned citizen -- can't tell whether they have any pain, either. In fact, you have even less knowledge about the patient's condition than the doctor does. You can't tell just from looking at the person whether they are "medical" or "recreational" and it isn't your place to even try. Consider, for example, how you might feel if some unknown third party with no knowledge of your medical history tried to dictate which medicines you should not be allowed to use.

Therefore, by everything that it is legal and moral, if the doctor says that the use is "medical" then you are pretty much bound to take his word for it. You may not think that some person looks sick, but it wasn't any of your business in the first place. You don't live in their skin and have to suffer whatever they suffer.

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wm97 4 years, 5 months ago

Add to that the fact that marijuana is a very good anxiolytic (anxiety reliever) and many people use it for anxiety-related disorders such as ADD, ADHD, PTSD, etc. (It is quite a bit safer than most anxiety drugs, too.) Someone with one of these conditions may look perfectly normal but be suffering from conditions legitimately requiring medication. Does a soldier returning from a war zone deserve medication for PTSD just as much as the 90-year-old with cancer? Absolutely. But the soldier going into a pot store will probably leave you with the impression that they are fakers, just wanting to get loaded.

The bottom line is that you can't tell what is medical and what is recreational, and it wouldn't be your place to interfere in their medication, even if you could. Morally speaking, the best thing you can do is butt out. (Just as the best thing I could do about your medical situation is butt out. You just don't need my help to make private medical decisions, even if your decisions are foolish ones.)

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wm97 4 years, 5 months ago

And, BTW, one of the most interesting items to come out of the research on California's medical marijuana users is that many of them -- who look perfectly healthy -- are using it to treat anxiety disorders. Many of them had hard drug abuse problems before they took up the regular use of marijuana. When they started using medical marijuana, 90 percent greatly reduced their use of harder drugs, and ten percent quit completely. So the "perfectly healthy" person you see smoking pot may be a recovering drug addict, or someone with similar anxiety issues.

As for the measure not being well thought out, the problem lies with the fact that the laws were lunacy from the beginning, and the lunacy continues in Washington. Take a few months to do a complete review of the Federal law, and the facts surrounding medical marijuana. The truth is that it never should have been outlawed in the first place. At most, it should have been regulated like beer, but even that was probably unnecessary.

How big is the marijuana market? It is about $100 billion per year. That is about the same size as the beer market. So, every time you see beer on sale in your community, make a mental note that somebody, somewhere in your community is selling the same amount of marijuana. You don't see it because it is an underground economy but it is there, and it is just as big as beer.

So you really only have two choices for a solution. Either the pot will be sold by legal, licensed dealers, who follow rules and pay taxes, or it can be sold by organized crime that does not follow rules and pay taxes.

You really don't have any other choices. The marijuana is going to be there and be sold whether you like it or not. The only choice you have is in who sells it and the rules they follow. You can have honest business people, or you can have organized crime. Take your pick. Do you really think that organized crime should get a guaranteed monopoly on a business the size of beer?

Now, knowing all of that, and the fact that marijuana is illegal at the Federal level, try to write a sensible law. If you can do it, I am sure that everyone in the drug law reform movement would love to hear from you.

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nativegirl 4 years, 5 months ago

Now that I have read through your 3 to 1 replies to my posts, I have to suggest that you may be indulging in the old, "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bs" argument.

I did a little research of my own, and found that mainstream scientists may not agree with the "results" you indicate on medical marijuana research.

For example, this is an excerpt from an interesting article ( http://www.godandscience.org/doctrine/medical_marijuana_review.html#cpp8U5ns7Ir4 )that states:

"Medical marijuana summary The use of marijuana or cannabis extracts for medical treatment has been extensively studied over the last 20 years. Initial enthusiasm for THC as an antiemetic or to reduce intraocular pressure has waned with the advent of new medications that provide superior medical benefits with fewer adverse effects. The main success of THC has been found in patients suffering from AIDS-related wasting syndrome and in some cases in which patients are suffering from intractable pain. However, nearly all of these studies involved the use of controlled doses of purified cannabinoids, bypassing the adverse effects associated with smoking marijuana. Dr. Robert L. DuPont, Georgetown University School of Medicine, says that most opponents of the medical use of smoked marijuana are not hostile to the medical use of THC, while "most supporters of smoked marijuana are hostile to the use of purified chemicals from marijuana, insisting that only smoked marijuana leaves be used as 'medicine,' revealing clearly that their motivation is not scientific medicine but the back door legalization of marijuana."

Interestingly enough, when I dug around, the only sites giving information similar to the claims you are making are the sites promoting the legalization of marijuana.

Now I'm going to return to my initial point, which is this: It does not matter how this happened, people still have to deal with the end result, and the decicsion to allow or not allow medical marijuana to be sold in any one community should be an issue that the people living in that community have the right to either embrace or reject.

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hanginj 4 years, 5 months ago

After all is said and the blah, blah, blah is done, common sense and the nativegirl are correct. Its our town, our choice.

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daybyday 4 years, 5 months ago

A few quick thoughts. Legalization of marijuana will not rid us of illegal drug dealers or organized crime. Dispensaries were a stepping stone used to legalize marijuana and I am wondering which presently illegal drug will be next. That a person, company or industry is making $100 billion or more doesn't necessarily equate with what is good for or with growth and prosperity for our country (the multi-billion dollar pornography business for example). There are good doctors and bad ones, but the good ones will be ethically minded and care enough to research patient background, assess perceived pain according to expected standards, ask questions, order tests, offer precautions and alternative treatments, and do follow up. Bottom line, I think we need to start working on solutions to the problems we're creating (ADHD, anxiety, etc.) instead of writing more prescriptions. I understand there is a new non-narcotic pain medication that is being tested now, and I wonder if it works how many MM patients would be interested.

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wm97 4 years, 5 months ago

Nativegirl,

You are actually taking a site on "Evidence for God" as proof? Oh, please. It isn't even related.

As for the claims in the article, yes, most of the research has been done on the pure form of THC. That's because the US Government has basically forbidden all but the pre-approved research on marijuana since 1944. So they did the research on Marinol, the pure form of THC. Marinol is in Schedule III and marijuana is in Schedule I.

That is, the US Government admits that the primary active ingredient in marijuana has a medical use and is safe enough to be in Schedule III (same as Vicodin, etc.) but claims that the plant that contains the drug must be in Schedule I. This would be equivalent to making Vitamin C tablets Sched. III while oranges are Sched. I. That clearly makes no sense.

But that isn't really the point, anyway. The major point is that it doesn't make any sense to punish sick people who have done nothing more than to try to relieve their own suffering -- even if you disagree with their choice of medicine.

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wm97 4 years, 5 months ago

As for Robert DuPont, you may be interested in his history. He was head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse back in the 1960s. At the time, he wrote some major articles explaining why marijuana should be legalized completely.

Then, he changed his mind on the subject. He got together with Peter Bensinger, former head of the DEA, and they formed a drug-testing company. They lobbied their friends in Congress to pass laws promoting drug testing and they got instantly rich.

Naturally, drug testing doesn't work real well on anything but marijuana. With just about any other drug, a person can be blitzed all weekend and still test clean for work on Monday, even though they are in no shape to work. But marijuana is detectable in the body a long time. If marijuana was legalized, it would knock the bottom out of his drug testing business.

Therefore, ever since he formed the business, he changed his tune and now opposes legalization.

As for why so many posts? -- simple, it requires some explanation, and they don't allow long posts.

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wm97 4 years, 5 months ago

"After all is said and the blah, blah, blah is done, common sense and the nativegirl are correct. Its our town, our choice."

Yes, it is your town and your choice. You can choose to have beer sold by regulated, licensed distributors who follow rules like age limits, pay taxes, and generally recognize that they must be good citizens to continue doing business.

Or you can turn your beer business over to people like Al Capone -- people who do not follow rules, do not have licenses, and sell to anyone who comes along, including kids. In fact, they recognize that kids make good couriers so they get them started in the business early. They have no incentive to follow rules.

At the same time, you can give organized crime a monopoly worth tens of billions per year and trust that they will spend all that money to the benefit of the community.

You know, just like you have now chosen to be a part of shipping perhaps $30 billion in marijuana revenues to the drug lords in Mexico. But for your attitude, they would go broke.

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wm97 4 years, 5 months ago

daybyday wrote:

"Legalization of marijuana will not rid us of illegal drug dealers or organized crime."

According to the US Federal Government itself, it will cut the revenues of the drug gangs in Mexico by about 60 percent. That won't eliminate them but it will put a huge dent in their power.

"Dispensaries were a stepping stone used to legalize marijuana and I am wondering which presently illegal drug will be next."

The laws on the other drugs were just as lunatic as this one. Believe it or not, these drugs were not considered to be a major problem in society until they were outlawed. You can read an excellent history at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/cu/cumenu.htm

"That a person, company or industry is making $100 billion or more doesn't necessarily equate with what is good for or with growth and prosperity for our country (the multi-billion dollar pornography business for example)."

It means that $100 billion will either go to the good guys or the bad guys -- take your pick. It is the same choice we had with beer.

"There are good doctors and bad ones, but the good ones will be ethically minded and care enough to research patient background, assess perceived pain according to expected standards, ask questions, order tests, offer precautions and alternative treatments, and do follow up."

How much justification does a doctor need to recommend a drug that is safer than aspirin?

"Bottom line, I think we need to start working on solutions to the problems we're creating (ADHD, anxiety, etc.) instead of writing more prescriptions. I understand there is a new non-narcotic pain medication that is being tested now, and I wonder if it works how many MM patients would be interested."

Not many. There aren't many drugs out there that have the same kind of safety margin and minimal side effects that marijuana does.

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daybyday 4 years, 5 months ago

wm97, you enjoy using numbers, but only when they further your ultimate cause of legalization of all illegal drugs as stated in your 11/24 6:55 p.m. post. (I hope everyone reads this because this is the secret agenda to which most voters were, and will in the future, blindsided.) As regards your reply to Nativegirl, here is a number for you - there are approximately 2 billion Christians in the world. All responsible voters, including Christian voters, have an obligation to research what they believe to be trusted resources. She has stated that she's read what information you have peppered throughout this discussion, and you basically implied her foolish by even mentioning a Christian resource. The new pain medication being researched and those which I'm certain will be in the near future will not only be non-narcotic, but safer and fewer side effects than marijuana. But still the majority of MM "patients" will not be interested only because it is not pain relief that the majority of them seek.

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Eddy 4 years, 4 months ago

i wish that it would be legalized,and taxed. American pot is ten times better than mexican,and our tobacco farmers could start a new crop,since smoking cigarets has become taboo.

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GreyStone 4 years, 4 months ago

Most Mexican pot is grown in California under guidance of Mexican growers. It is safer and much easier for them to just walk into the US, then grow and sell the Mexican pot right in the US to unsuspecting buyers as real American pot.

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