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EDITORIAL: PUT THE UW TO WORK ON THE MEDICINAL POT DEBATE

Newshawk: Is My Medicine Legal Yet? www.immly.org
Source: Appleton Post-Crescent
Pubdate: 12 April 2001
Address: The Post-Crescent, P.O. Box 59, Appleton, WI, 54912.
Website: http://www.wisinfo.com/postcrescent/
Contact: pcnews@smgpo.gannett.com
Copyright: © Copyright 2001 The Post-Crescent.

PUT THE UW TO WORK ON THE MEDICINAL POT DEBATE

Back in the days before it became politically incorrect to joke about drinking, the character who kept a bottle handy but drank “only for medicinal purposes” was a comedy staple.

Today there is a movement to revive the character but without the laughter.

Some medical professionals and many patients insist that marijuana ought to be available legally “for medicinal purposes.”

Other states have grappled with the issue, including California, where pot is dispensed legally to anyone who brings in a prescription. Not surprisingly, the program is controversial and critics insist that abuse is widespread.

Wisconsin is beginning to consider the issue seriously. A legislative committee held the first public hearing the other day on a bill providing for legal use of marijuana to relieve pain and for other medically justified conditions.

But there is no consensus among medical practitioners that pot really provides any medical benefits. The State Medical Society says more research is needed, Nurses and patients testified that they already know the answer and the weed works to relieve symptoms. The law enforcement community is noncommittal.

The proposal raises issues outside those surrounding the claims of beneficial effects. Who would grow the stuff and under what sort of regulation? How would the state assure that the crop was used only for legitimate purposes. What rules would doctors be required to follow in deciding which patients needed and could benefit from a prescription? Is it better consumed in pill form or through an inhaler like asthma medicine, rather than smoked?

The state has resources in the University of Wisconsin’s medical research labs to seek the answers to the medically-related questions. The findings would be useful not just here but nationwide as this campaign for medicinal pot spreads.

As for the non-medical questions, if the time arrived when legislators and experts were convinced of the merits of declaring marijuana a medicine, the regulation and other details could be worked out.

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