Pubdate: Sun, 29 Dec 2002
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)
Copyright: 2002 Richmond Newspapers Inc.
Author: Lennice Werth


Editor, Times-Dispatch: In "Pot Does Little to Help People," Correspondent 
of the Day Lawrence Lanberg is surprised that doctors aren't laughing about 
medical marijuana. Why should they? As an adjunct medication, cannabis is 
quite effective for persons with severe, chronic pain. Some who have been 
prescribed large doses of traditional narcotic pain medications find that 
small amounts of the herb can lessen their dependence on the more 
stupefying drugs. That explains the comment so frequently heard about 

More than 20 years ago, a Virginia resident, Irvin Rosenfeld, sued the 
federal government because his doctors felt he needed marijuana to treat 
his very painful disease. Now he is a successful stockbroker in Florida, 
and although the bone tumors he suffers from were considered a cancer risk, 
he is healthy and still smoking government-issued joints! We don't see 
cancer rate increases among marijuana users. So what does all the talk 
about carcinogens amount to?

A criminal record remains the most dangerous consequence of marijuana use. 
Jailhouse suicides, rape, and exposure to AIDS, hepatitis C, and 
tuberculosis must be listed, because so many find themselves behind bars. 
In fact, the re-emergence of TB makes overcrowded prisons a public health 
threat that affects us all.

Doctors and patients must decide the question of medical use together on a 
case-by-case basis. However, seeing that a recent Time magazine survey 
found 47 percent of Americans have tried marijuana, the most pertinent 
question is not about its medical value, but how many users should be 
considered criminals?

Lennice Werth

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