Iowans for Medical Marijuana
POST OFFICE BOX 4091 DES MOINES, IOWA 50333 515-288-5798
December 18, 1996
The Des Moines Register
Post Office Box 957
Des Moines, Iowa 50304
Regarding the letter from Graham Gillette published in your paper on December 16, Mr. Gillette raises some good arguments concerning the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.
Mr. Gillette informs us that marijuana has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and a number of professional medical organizations. He claims that the voters in California were duped into voting for a ballot initiative that legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
The fact is that the voters in California voted for compassion. They no longer want to make criminals out of desperately ill people who find relief from using marijuana. This is not rocket science, as Mr. Gillette would prefer. It is simply a matter of compassion, nothing else.
The California law does not make it legal for doctors to prescribe marijuana to their patients. It simply creates a legal defense which is triggered when a doctor says, "I would prescribe marijuana, if it were legal." A doctor is usually not going to make such a statement until every other alternative has been tried, and nothing else works.
The Governor of California had two opportunities to approve more restrictive medical marijuana bills passed by the California Legislature in the two years preceding the ballot initiatives, but vetoed the measures on both occasions. The voters were left with no reasonable alternative.
We can prevent that sort of thing here in Iowa by passing reasonable legislation that avoids putting desperately ill Iowans through the ordeal of arrest and prosecution. Iowa could work with the FDA to establish a therapeutic research program which could conduct clinical research to determine how marijuana works and the safest routes of administration.
We are not dealing with an extremely dangerous substance like most of those approved by the Food and Drug Administration for prescription. In 1988, a law judge for the Drug Enforcement Administration ruled that, "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man."
In 1995, the prestigious British medical journal, Lancet, editorialized that, "The smoking of cannabis, even long term, is not harmful to health." Studies by the National Center for Toxicological Research in Pine Bluff, Arkansas came to similar conclusions.
The American Public Health Association, the largest and oldest organization of health professionals in the world, has recommended that marijuana be legalized for medical purposes, as has the American Nurses Association.
I, for one, don't think my tax money is being wisely spent arresting and prosecuting sick people for trying to relieve their pain.
1116 E. Seneca Ave., #3
Des Moines, IA 50316