First, the setup, which is a recent Tribune editorial…
Medical marijuana has had a lot of successes. Eleven states have legalized the therapeutic use of cannabis for people whose doctors think they can benefit from it. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the right of physicians to recommend pot to their patients. A 1999 report by the federal government’s Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded, “Scientific data indicate the potential therapeutic value of cannabinoid drugs, primarily THC, for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation.”
But elsewhere, medical marijuana has stalled. Most states still don’t allow it, and even in those that do, federal laws still ban the possession of cannabis. That means sick people who need marijuana for symptoms that don’t respond to approved drugs must either do without or risk going to jail. Despite the IOM’s call for more research, studies have been few and far between. As a result, the therapeutic value of cannabis remains largely unknown and untapped.
Recently, there were a couple of advances that may help to erode the federal government’s stubborn resistance. The first was a study in the journal Neurology that found smoking pot can relieve pain–including a condition found in AIDS victims that is often impervious to other pain drugs, even powerful opiates. Said Donald Abrams, a physician and professor at the University of California, San Francisco, “There is a measurable medical benefit to smoking cannabis for these patients.”
But such research is hard to come by. That’s because the federal government is the only legal source of marijuana for clinical studies, and its monopoly presents some serious problems.
Now, the question: Should medical marijuana be allowed in Illinois? If “yes,” should research here be encouraged or even subsidized? Why or why not?