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Proposition 215: Should Marijuana Be Legalized? Essay, Research Paper

Proposition 215: Should Marijuana Be Legalized?

Medical Marijuana Initiative Section 1. Section 11362.5 is added to the Health

and Safety Code, to read: 11362.5. (a) This section shall be known and may be

cited as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. (b) (l) The people of the State of

California hereby find and declare that the purposes of the Compassionate Use

Act of 1996 are as follows: (A) To ensure that seriously ill Californians have

the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical

use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who has

determined that the person’s health would benefit from the use of marijuana in

the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma,

arthritis, migraine, or any other illness for which marijuana provides relief.

(B) To ensure that patients and their primary caregivers who obtain and use

marijuana for medical purposes upon the recommendation of a physician are not

subject to criminal prosecution or sanction. (C) To encourage the federal and

state governments to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable

distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana. (2)

Nothing in this act shall be construed to supersede legislation prohibiting

persons from engaging in conduct that endangers others, nor to condone the

diversion of marijuana for nonmedical purposes. With standing any other

provision of law, no physician in this state shall be punished, or denied any

right or privilege, for having recommended marijuana to a patient for medical

purposes. (d) Section 11357, relating to the possession of marijuana, and

Section 11358, relating to the cultivation of marijuana, shall not apply to a

patient, or to a patient’s primary caregiver, who possesses or cultivates

marijuana for the personal medical purposes of the patient upon the written or

oral recommendation or approval of a physician. (e) For the purposes of this

section, “primary caregiver” means the individual designated by the person

exempted under this act who has consistently assumed responsibility for the

housing, health, or safety of that person. Sec. 2. If any provision of this

measure or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid,

that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the measure

which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to

this en d the provisions of this measure are severable. On November 5th,

Californians approved Prop. 215, allowing patients to use medical marijuana.

Voter support of this historic new law was 55.7% in favor verses only 44.3%

opposed, a spread of 11.4 points. The passage of Proposition 215 would give the

people of California legal access to a remarkably safe, highly versatile, and

potentially inexpensive medicine. Patients find marijuana helpful for nausea and

vomiting, for glaucoma and as an appetite stimulant. It is used for the relief

of muscle spasms and seizures, as well as osteoarthritis, menstrual cramps,

migraine and other forms of chronic pain. It is safer than most prescription

medicines and often works better, with less serious side effects.

If marijuana were not prohibited, it would also be less expensive than most

conventional medications. The cost of medical marijuana would be $20 to $30 an

ounce, or about 30 cents per cigarette. Once cigarette usually relieves the

nausea and vomiting produced by cancer chemotherapy. So does a standard dose of

Zofran, the best legally available treatment, which costs $30 to $40 – at least

100 times the price of marijuana. According to a 1995 poll conducted by the

American Civil Liberties Union, 85 percent of Americans think marijuana should

be available as a medicine. Interest in medical marijuana is becoming so great

that physicians in California and elsewhere may soon be asked to assume

responsibilities for which they are unprepared. Nineteenth-century doctors were

more sophisticated about marijuana than contemporary ones. Between 1840 and 1900,

more than 100 articles on the therapeutic use of the drug then known as Indian

hemp were published in European and American medical journals. When medical use

in the United States was effectively outlawed by the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937,

the American Medical Association, to its credit, opposed the ban. Since then,

unfortunately, the medical community has become largely ignorant about marijuana

and has been a victim and an agent in the spread of misinformation. This

situation is finally beginning to change. Doctors are learning about marijuana

in an unusual way not from articles in medical journals or from drug company

advertisements, but from their patients. There have been many cases observed

that many patients who use marijuana to relieve symptoms from muscle spasms to

severe depression. Their doctors respond in different ways. A few condemn

marijuana use, and some pretend to ignore it or profess indifference, but most

offer some encouragement or moral support despite the fact that marijuana is

classified under federal law as “unsafe for use under medical supervision.”

Obviously doctors confronted with medical need can recognize the foolishness of

this law. But most are either afraid to do anything more or unable to provide

further help because they know to little. Physicians will find that more and

more patients are approaching them with questions about marijuana. They will

have to learn which symptoms and disorders may be better treated with marijuana

than with conventional medications. They will also need to instruct patients who

are unfamiliar with marijuana in the best ways to use it. To accomplish that,

they must listen more carefully to their patients and educated themselves and

one another about this medicine. Physicians have long recognized the need for

continuing medical education (CME) to keep themselves up to date on new drugs

and techniques. As Proposition 215 comes to California, physicians should do

their part in fulfilling its promise by organizing CME courses on the medical

use of marijuana.


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