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Medicinal Marijuana: It’s a Long Way to the Pharmacy, Part 2

(Medical Marijuana . . . p2)

Double Standards Are Crazy Oregon, along with six other states, has provided a solution for me to get the medicine I need. Oregon voters passed a law which “allows” me to grow my own medicinal marijuana at my home. And I am appreciative of this, as far as it goes. But that word “allow” is a misnomer. The correct word would be “force.” Medicinal marijuana is the only medicine that patients are forced to produce themselves.

This requirement raises a burning question for me. If I am legally controlling my epilepsy with medicinal marijuana, why am I expected to grow and process my own medicine? Patients who are prescribed morphine for pain are not told to grow their own poppies. That would be absurd. A rational person wouldn’t even suggest it. No, those patients, like all patients, get their prescription from their doctor and fill them at a pharmacy. So why should I not be allowed to get my medicine from a pharmacy? Why the double standard?

I’ve heard some War On Drug (WOD) spokesmen say that putting medicinal marijuana in the pharmacies would make it easily accessible to anyone. It would send “the wrong message” to youth. It would cost too much money. Some actually purport to believe that the “alternative” solutions to the “problem” of medicinal marijuana—such as growing your medicine at home, having the federal government fill prescriptions through the mail, or having personal physicians dispense medicinal marijuana to their patients from their offices—make better sense than legally dispensing the medicine through a pharmacy. Such notions are ridiculous. A moment of reflection is all it takes to become convinced that putting medicinal marijuana in the pharmacies is truly the best solution.

I’ll grant that the WOD warriors are right about the first part. Making medicinal marijuana available in pharmacies does indeed make it more easily accessible—to those people who legitimately need it. Marijuana should be treated like any other powerful medicine. Doctors would first prescribe it for their patients, and then, in a more sensible world, their patients would get it at the pharmacy. No one would be able to just walk up and get it over-the-counter. Having a doctor’s prescription means that you must first be examined, then diagnosed. Your doctor must decide that medicinal marijuana would be a helpful therapy for your condition. None of this procedure is different from the system currently employed to control thousands of other pharmaceutical preparations available in pharmacies.

Jocelyn Elders (former Surgeon General) agrees that marijuana needs to be in the pharmacies. She writes, “It is criminal to keep this medicine from patients.” It is much easier and safer for doctors and pharmacists to regulate the strength and dosage than for someone to have to guess it themselves. Dr. Lester Grinspoon, MD., professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, also advocates the normalization of medicinal marijuana. In a recent interview, Dr. Grinspoon said, “The government is unwilling to admit that marijuana can be a safe and effective medicine because of a stubborn commitment to wild exagger-ation of its dangers. Far from believing that medical availability of marijuana would open the way to other uses, we take the view that free availability of cannabis may be the only way to make its judicious medical use possible.”

Growing Marijuana as Medicine I was one of the first 22 people that the state of Oregon licensed to cultivate marijuana for medicinal purposes. But getting the license is only the beginning. People don’t realize all of the factors involved in growing marijuana. Consider, for starters, such factors as space, time, knowledge, and money. I am confounded by these problems even as I write this, even as you read these words. Space is the first concern. Due to the problem of herbal theft, growing marijuana requires a garage, a basement, an extra room, or at least a closet in order to grow the plant indoors. If criminalization didn’t create such an illicit social demand for the plant, I could much more naturally, and with a lot less hassle, grow it out of doors, like any other shrub. Next, it takes time, several months in fact, to get high quality, dried, smokeable marijuana. I personally have had my license for nine months, yet I am far from harvesting my medicine—and remember, this is a medicine I use every day. Where am I supposed to find a reliable source for this medicine while I wait for my seeds to germinate, grow, and flower? The next issue is experience. There are so many gardening questions when it comes to growing marijuana. It takes years of horticultural experience to be able to consistently produce high-grade marijuana. Last but not least, there’s money. It takes a lot of money to pay for the many items necessary to grow medicinal strength marijuana. It starts with the $150.00 a year I must pony up just for the state license. Doing a good job of growing potent marijuana can require thousands of dollars for all of the equipment. I myself have spent almost $600.00 and I have barely begun.

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