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Question of the day

Monday, Feb 26, 2007

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?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - RBD - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 8:30 am:

    Legal = yes
    Encourage research = yes
    Subsidize research = only if the 2009+ president follows the current administration’s model. Research is better funded on a national scale since the benefits are national/international.

  2. - Terry - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 8:34 am:

    I think it should not be legalized until Illinois researches it.

  3. - Hon. John Fritchey - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 8:43 am:


    It has been ignorance, and an unwarranted fear of a political backlash, that has kept this from happening in the past. To such an extent that I remember several years ago, Judy Erwin, and I think Ron Wait, had difficulty passing a study of potential commercial uses for industrial hemp because legislators were so unreasonably worried about anything remotely sounding like they were soft of the (failed) war on drugs.

    The allowance of medical marijuana in a well-regulated framework is workable, compassionate and proper thing to for us to allow in our state.

    I commend my Senator, John Cullerton, for sponsoring it in the Senate and look forward to the opportunity to do the same in the House should it come over to us.

  4. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 8:46 am:

    I am sure the Democrat party would love that. Absolutely not. There are many alternate sources. Illinois has far more important things to waist our tax dollar on rather than having the State Legislature volunteer to do testing.

  5. - Robbie - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 8:48 am:

    I think there should be more accessibility for companies to research with. Because then they can get a better idea of what it can and can’t do. Then we can cross the road of legalization then. Though I guess semantics-wise, if I am advocating research and testing, I would be allowing people to use it already.

  6. - Justice - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 8:59 am:

    Not sure if it makes sense to “smoke” pot for medical purposes. Why not a THC pill or patch? Is that more practical? I can only imagine the number of medical maryjane prescriptions that would be bogus. Sort of like the handicap stickers on automobiles. My vote is not until it is properly researched, with national funding.

  7. - Fan of the Game - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 9:06 am:

    I support the private, well regulated study of cannabis for medicinal purposes. However, it seems that the compounds that make it effective as a pain killer could be administered in a more effective way than smoking.

  8. - Mr. Ethics - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 9:16 am:

    Marijuana is already available throughout Illinois. If you need some just ask any high school or college student where to get it. (Don’t fool yourselfs people, it is that simple). Why not try and sell it legally and get some revenue off it. The war against it sure doesn’t work. Also, what is there to research? The effects are already pretty well known.

  9. - VanillaMan - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 9:25 am:

    Real doctors prescribe specific amounts of a drug in order to control dosages to measure any impact of a drug upon their patients. Labs isolate chemical compounds in order to control dosage and in order to measure results as prescribed.

    Smoking pot doesn’t do anything like that. It isn’t “medical”, when you use that term as understood. The entire phrase, “medical marijuana” is an oxymoron. Sure, there are drugs within pot smoke, some beneficial to some patients, some of the time. Since when would that criteria meet anyone’s definition of medical? The best one could say is that it is similar to St. John’s Wort for depression, or hoodia for weight loss.

    I know the amount of drugs within marijuana differ. When you use it, if you smoke it, if you ingest it, all makes for a difference in impact. Frankly, tobacco has some medicinal value as an insecticide, so would it be OK for doctors to prescribe cigarettes?

    We have dozens of controlled, researched drugs available to patients that mimic or even better any benefits from pot smoke. This is the 21st Century, there isn’t any medical benefits from pot we can create using better methods. Pot smoking for medical reasons is downright medieval.

    The Tribune is a newspaper, right? Have they ever contacted people in California and asked them if they have had successes with medical marijuana? They either hadn’t, or are deliberately misleading readers into believing that there hasn’t been drawbacks legalizing pot smoking.

    The availability of pot for anyone to legally buy in California is widespread, and out of control. So-called patients are merely buying pot from outlets who write prescriptions based on patient claims of illness testimony. After years of abuse, there is no longer any pretense behind the claims of pot for medical reasons. Teens just walk up and buy pot legally now. For the Tribune to even use the word “success” in describing how bad the situation there has gotten is out in out fraudulent news reporting.

    What we have seen in the real world regarding this issue nullifies anyone’s claim that this is OK with few drawbacks. Those claiming that Illinois would benefit from following other states in making this available - and are seriously doing so - have either not done any research, or are just following stoned lemmings off a cliff.

  10. - Six Degrees of Separation - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 9:25 am:

    Like, man, I have a headache.

  11. - Squideshi - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 9:26 am:

    I support the legalization of marijuana; but like tobacco, I do not think that people should be allowed to smoke it in public places. The amount of resources that we spend on prosecuting minor marijuana-related crimes is staggeringly wasteful.

  12. - Still Anon - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 9:38 am:

    Yes. Yes. Yes. And any legislator who thinks the answer is “no” ought to be forced to do hospice duty with cancer patients.

  13. - Just Observing - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 9:51 am:

    Legalize medical and recreational uses of marijuana. Marijuana prohibition is unbelievably misguided.

  14. - Way Northsider - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 10:19 am:

    Anon 8:46 - Who is the “Democrat party”? No such entity exists.
    In answer to the question - Yes. Medical uses are fine. Regulate and tax.

  15. - Wumpus - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 10:19 am:

    Yes, as we are banning tobacco, let’s legalize this. Cwaziiee. What about second hand smoke? I am against this until they allow business owners to set some of the rules in their own establishments.

  16. - Shadoobie - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 10:40 am:

    Yes, marijuana should be made legal for medical purposes. (Go a step further and make it legal for recreational use, too.)

    If the government is presently the sole source of medical marijuana, as has been stated, make it legal and open the market up to pharmaceutical companies and let them get in on the research action.

  17. - Sahims2 - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 10:47 am:

    No and definitely not. Private venture capital is available on large scale to finance research on viable medical issues - if this is one, the money will be there - we do not need the government financing this!

  18. - MMM - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 10:51 am:

    I agree this should be legalized for medicinal use-it isn’t like it will change any abuse that currently goes on- but fund the research? That is what private capital is for.

  19. - DOWNSTATE - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 10:51 am:

    If you tax it has high as cigarettes or gas they will put it into law by the end of the week.I have always thought that when the government figured out a way to control and tax it .They would legalize it.

  20. - independent voter - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 11:01 am:

    Yes, it should absolutely be allowed. I don’t know that medical marijuana should be encouraged or subsidized, but it should be permitted for people who need it.

    BTW, anyone else remember when that guy who gets marijuana cigarettes provided to him by the federal govt. for his health problems (yes, the U.S. war on drugs is THAT hypocritical) was testifying in a hearing a couple years back and the state Capitol police detained him? So ridiculous.

  21. - i d - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 11:05 am:

    Yes, legalize it and while we’re at it, legalize all drugs. Make it, sell it, tax it and tax it high. Use the money to pay for education because smarter kids mean more money earners, less poverty and better world for all. Crime rate will go down and prison costs will go down. Users are going to use so just let it all be over sooner.

  22. - JBC - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 11:10 am:

    Private investment in research should be allowed, though state subsidization seems a bit backwards when other funding sources are available. Instead of wasting innumerable state funds on prosecution and incrimination, the state should think about how to effectively tax marijuana in order to raise revenues. It could even go towards much needed school funding. I can see it now: Weed for Kids

  23. - leigh - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 11:11 am:

    Ever witnessed somebody suffering the side effect of chemo? I say make it legal.

  24. - Objective Dem - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 11:30 am:

    Legalize it.

  25. - cermak_rd - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 11:30 am:

    Good grief, my mother-in-law wears a morphine patch, takes a high dosage of oxycontin twice a day AND uses tylenol with codeine to fill in the gaps as needed. I would argue that those drugs (especially the morphine & oxycontin) are far more powerful than marijuana and the morphine is a heck of a lot more addictive. If those are legal, and able to be controlled, why not marijuana?

  26. - Shelbyville - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 11:49 am:

    Cermak - I thought you were coming in on the against side. I am with you. If she had access to mj, she might not need all of those narcotics.

    I am a Ronald Reagan Republican and have never smoked it in my life, but having watched my son suffer from debilitating migraines from age 5 - I am now in the corner of “yes, let it be prescribed.”

  27. - Frank Booth - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 12:01 pm:

    OK, first the Trib comes out in support of a tax hike, now its pushing legal doc pot?
    Why don’t they just buy a Miata like every babyboomer at this stage in life?

  28. - zatoichi - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 12:02 pm:

    My aunt died of cancer a short time ago. Chemo therapy sickness was extremely difficult for her until she smoked a small amount of pot my cousins got for her. Was it placebo? Her oncologist had no problem with it and no one in our family cared. It was pretty easy to find. It did not solve everything, but she felt better.

    Legalize it. There are plenty of investors who would fund any research needed if legit profit is obtainable. State does not need to spend a dime and collect the taxes. While they are at, save many millions more by getting those small time users out of prison.

  29. - Anon. - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 12:20 pm:

    Legalize it. My father died of cancer 5 years ago. If you have witnessed someone dying - I guarantee you would want to legalize marijuana.

  30. - Suzanne ICHG - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 12:21 pm:

    The Illinois Committee for Honest Government supports IMMEDIATE legalization of medical marijuana.
    We take no stand on research and subsidy.

    Generally, we think most scientific research should be Federal Government, Military, or private sector. States don’t always do a good job at research and we don’t have the money and it is not efficient.

  31. - Anon - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 12:26 pm:

    The Federal government needs to deregulate the monopoly and start allowing the scientific community to research the substance.

  32. - Skeeter - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 1:14 pm:

    Legalize it for all uses. However, like others said in jest and I say in complete seriousness, ban it from bars and where second hand smoke will impact others.

    Consume what you want as long as you are not harming those around you. It is none of the government’s business.

  33. - Squideshi - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 2:04 pm:

    From the platform of the Illinois Green Party:

    “Marijuana should be legalized, although its legal use should be restricted to adults.”

    From the platform of the Green Party of the United States:

    “We oppose the arrest, harassment or prosecution of anyone involved in any aspect of the production, cultivation, transportation, distribution or consumption of medicinal marijuana. We also oppose the harassment, prosecution or revocation of license of any health-care provider who gives a recommendation or prescription for medicinal marijuana.”

    “We call for decriminalization of victimless crimes. For example, the possession of small amounts of marijuana.”

  34. - yinn - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 2:32 pm:

    Legalize for adult uses. Belgium legalized mj 2-3 years ago; conservatives there were sure it was the end of the world but nothing bad happened. Even Walter Cronkite says we’ve lost the War on Drugs. Save the War $$$ for raiding the meth labs. Legalize, regulate, tax, research mj.

  35. - Larry Mulholland - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 5:49 pm:

    Legalize it, tax it heavily, then use the proceeds fight the true burden on our society which is cocaine, meth, heroin.

    The other important issue is INDUSTRIAL HEMP.

    Hon. John Fritchey is correct about the Industrial Hemp bill. I think it was 02-03.

    The uses for hemp are tremendous. Clothing, makeups, lotions, and oil (ethanol) just to name a few.

    The plant is great for the land as well. Because the the spread of the canopy from each plant and the growing style, these hemp plants can be planted much closer together which does not facilitate the growth of weeds. Thereby eliminating the need for chemical agents on our farm land. Perfect rotational crop for the farmers. You can also get two or three crops a year in each plot because it grows so much quicker than the traditional farm crops. It is also much more hearty than your traditional crops.

    For those worrying about the ever so slippery slope that is drug use…Well, it was said in the house committee that you would have to smoke a telephone poll of industrial hemp to get high!!

    Now back to real pot. The kind that will get you high. The sticky kind that has those little red and orange and bright green hairs. Now that pot kind of pot may make you want more.

    But As talk show host/Dr. Dean Eddell had said for many, many years….Pot is less addictive and harmful to your body, less addictive than alcohol, nicotine and yes, even caffeine.

    All of this is commonly supported as fact.

    Where’s the logic?

  36. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 6:50 pm:

    What happens if people suffering from terminal cancer get hooked on illegal drugs? The war on drugs is lost. Legalize drugs, tax them and free up prison space for those that belong there.

  37. - Half-baked - Monday, Feb 26, 07 @ 6:54 pm:

    What was the question?

  38. - State of Farce - Tuesday, Feb 27, 07 @ 2:43 am:

    Yes, of course. Hard drugs have blurred the distinction between this relatively-harmless plant and more dangerous drugs, devoid of any medicinal benefit. Politicians are too timid to advocate for the truth about marijuana and too many sick people are suffering needlessly. Alcohol doesn’t serve any benefit to society and is very destructive, yet it is the legal, acceptable social drug of choice. Rational, thinking people and learned scientists and physicians understand the fallacy of our failed war on marijuana. When will politicians wake up to the truth and do the right thing?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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