Some 81% of public now supports medical marijuana. And yet, there are big controversies about medical marijuana in every state in which it’s legal.
One of the reasons for this is that there’s no agreed-upon definition of what constitutes medical use, and so we get skeptical reports and alarming stories about “fraud” and “abuse” when apparently healthy 20-somethings stand in line for their scandalous “green cards”.
(I’ll set aside the fact for now that there really are some young adults who show no outward signs of illness but truly suffer from horrible disorders from which marijuana provides some relief.)
There is no solid definition of “medical use” because it’s a continuum, or scale, not an either/or contrast.
At one end of the medical use spectrum, you find proven medical benefits like:
- ocular pressure reduction for glaucoma,
- appetite improvement for wasting syndrome,
- reduction in spasms in MS patients,
- reduction of epileptic seizures,
- chronic pain relief, including migraines,
- preventing and treating cancerous tumors
Taking it a step further, if someone uses marijuana for, shall we say, spiritual introspection, or to enhance their experience of art, exercise, poetry, cinema, food, or sex, are these not therapeutic uses that improve people’s lives? And are there not real health benefits to be had just from laughing and having fun?
Dennis Peron, the “father of the medical marijuana movement”, once said that “all use is medical“.
These things aren’t defined by laws (nor could they be, really), so as long as we have “medical marijuana” on the books, there will be hand-wringing and consternation about “abuse” and “legitimacy”.
A legal regulated market for all adults solves this problem.
By removing medical status as a precondition for legal marijuana use, we will eliminate ambiguity while continuing to protect those individuals who use marijuana to treat their illnesses.
The public generally agrees. It’s just a matter of time and hard work by NORML and other organizations to get us from here to there.