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Potential for abuse is no reason to outlaw a useful drug [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"1603528","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"120","title":"Joel Mathis","width":"120"}}]]Yes, it's true: Drugs used to ...

Potential for abuse is no reason to outlaw a useful drug
Yes, it’s true: Drugs used to treat pain or relieve the symptoms of disease can often be used for recreational purposes. That’s true of marijuana. It’s also true of OxyContin, Valium and Ritalin - three of the most-abused drugs in America - yet no one is trying to ban them from sale or to prohibit doctors from using their best judgment in prescribing them to patients who can benefit from them. The difference between marijuana and those lab-created drugs? Marijuana is probably safer. You can’t really overdose on it, after all. “In absolute terms, states with a medical marijuana law had about 1,700 fewer opioid painkiller overdose deaths overall in 2010 alone than would be expected based on trends before the laws were passed,” Colleen L. Barry, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, testified last year. “While medical marijuana laws have been controversial, our study indicates an important unintended benefit of state medical marijuana laws.” Is medical marijuana a gateway to full weed legalization? Not necessarily. We’ve lived a long time in this country with the understanding - however imperfectly executed - that the availability of prescription drugs doesn’t imply society’s approval for their recreational use. We could probably come to the same understanding with pot. Would the advent of medical marijuana be abused by a few Seth Rogen types? Undoubtedly. And yet: So what? The existence of Seth Rogen has managed to annoy a North Korean dictator, but society itself doesn’t seem much the worse for having him around and contributing, does it? What does medical marijuana get us? Probable pain relief for those who need it. Reduced deaths for those who might rely on pills to get by. And, it seems, a few more “Reefer Madness” fantasies from folks who fear the results of compassion. How sad. How silly. And how antiquated. Twenty-three states already have passed medical marijuana laws. The issue has the backing of both Republicans and Democrats, who agree on little else these days. Prohibition usually hurts more than it helps. Let’s get this new bill passed, and quickly. Joel Mathis (joelmmathis@gmail.com) is associate editor for Philadelphia Magazine.Potential for abuse is no reason to outlaw a useful drug
Yes, it’s true: Drugs used to treat pain or relieve the symptoms of disease can often be used for recreational purposes.That’s true of marijuana. It’s also true of OxyContin, Valium and Ritalin - three of the most-abused drugs in America - yet no one is trying to ban them from sale or to prohibit doctors from using their best judgment in prescribing them to patients who can benefit from them.The difference between marijuana and those lab-created drugs? Marijuana is probably safer. You can’t really overdose on it, after all.“In absolute terms, states with a medical marijuana law had about 1,700 fewer opioid painkiller overdose deaths overall in 2010 alone than would be expected based on trends before the laws were passed,” Colleen L. Barry, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, testified last year. “While medical marijuana laws have been controversial, our study indicates an important unintended benefit of state medical marijuana laws.”Is medical marijuana a gateway to full weed legalization? Not necessarily. We’ve lived a long time in this country with the understanding - however imperfectly executed - that the availability of prescription drugs doesn’t imply society’s approval for their recreational use. We could probably come to the same understanding with pot.Would the advent of medical marijuana be abused by a few Seth Rogen types? Undoubtedly. And yet: So what? The existence of Seth Rogen has managed to annoy a North Korean dictator, but society itself doesn’t seem much the worse for having him around and contributing, does it?What does medical marijuana get us? Probable pain relief for those who need it. Reduced deaths for those who might rely on pills to get by. And, it seems, a few more “Reefer Madness” fantasies from folks who fear the results of compassion. How sad. How silly.And how antiquated. Twenty-three states already have passed medical marijuana laws. The issue has the backing of both Republicans and Democrats, who agree on little else these days. Prohibition usually hurts more than it helps. Let’s get this new bill passed, and quickly.Joel Mathis (joelmmathis@gmail.com) is associate editor for Philadelphia Magazine.

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