Letter to the Editor: Professor defends medical marijuana

Commentary By

Professor Neill Ackerman, Ph.D.

Some things don’t make sense, and a prime example is why the Drug Enforcement Administration stubbornly refuses to remove marijuana from a Schedule one substance, which is defined as a dangerous drug with absolutely no medical uses, despite the fact that 24 states have legalized medical marijuana which comprises more than 50 percent of the U.S. population.

Chuck Rosenberg, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration who is a lawyer and not a doctor or scientist, has decided despite the fact that thousands upon thousands of people in the U.S. and Canada are taking medical marijuana to effectively treat a wide range of serious alignments including cancer, epilepsy, and severe pain, that in his opinion there is not enough evidence that marijuana is useful as a medicine. His irrational refusal to reschedule marijuana is restricting scientists to do further research because as a Schedule one substance, they could be arrested and prosecuted for possessing this illegal and “dangerous” substance.

It also does not make sense why after a fictional movie in 1933 called “Reefer Madness” without any scientific research, marijuana was made an illegal drug. However, now to get it rescheduled, Rosenberg cannot accept the multitude of research done in the U.S. and Canada that clearly shows that marijuana has medicinal powers.

Still another thing that does not make sense is the argument that legalizing medical marijuana will lead to its abuse, allowing access to use it for recreational purposes. In reality, four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana and many cities including New York, Philadelphia and Nashville, Tennessee have decriminalized it. So it is in many places a legal drug without the doomsday predictions of harmful effects. In fact, these cities and states have saved millions of dollars for arrest, prosecution and incarceration for a drug that does not cause the loss of life as do alcohol and tobacco.

Still another thing that makes no sense is why marijuana, unlike opioids, which is not a gateway drug as recently testified to by the U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, is still a Schedule one drug yet opioids are still listed as Schedule two. Abuse of opioids has become a national epidemic causing an untold number of deaths nationwide from overdoses. Marijuana, on the other hand, has been used albeit illegally, for years by The National Football League players to relieve severe pain after football games with no cases of deaths from overdosing. So, why not use medical marijuana in place of opioids?

If one looks deeper, one will discover that the movement to prevent medical marijuana from being legalized is quietly led by Big Pharma. They fear, justifiably, that if marijuana is legalized, it will replace their billion dollar markets in opioids. So, you see that the D.E.A.’s position makes no sense, but it makes a lot of CENTS for the big drug companies.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Ackerman specified in an email that he “emphatically does not condone the use of marijuana except for medical conditions.”

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