As a physician, I was interested that the city council discussed the possible amendment to the zoning code for the dispensing of medical marijuana. What interested me was that the only input mentioned was from John Pfeifer, who spoke as a member of the local planning commission and for some of the other pastors in the community.
Although Pfeifer doesn’t speak from a science or medical background, he claims that “Marijuana is a gateway drug.” Oops—he should have checked the medical journals before saying that! Marijuana has been studied extensively and is not a “gateway drug” in any physical way. If it is obtained illegally, that situation could provide a “gateway” to other illegal drugs. That is eliminated with a dispensary.
Pfeifer then said, “It has been proven harmful to the brain, the heart and the lungs.” Well, that is true of legal cigarettes, but most people do not consume marijuana in the same degree as cigarettes, so there are no studies to prove that claim. I’m not sure where Pfeifer got his data from because it’s not in the medical literature.
What I do know as a physician, and as an individual who lost two loved ones to cancer last year, is that we currently lack prescription medicine that can treat nausea and pain well. I’ve witnessed cancer patients unable to eat well because chemo makes them nauseated. The result is weight loss and a weakened immune system. And I’ve seen many cancer patients refusing adequate pain medicine because what we medical people mostly have to offer is morphine. And morphine makes people fall asleep so they lose more precious time with loved ones.
Marijuana’s medical efficacy has been proven in treating both nausea and pain. To confine its use to these compassionate ends, why not trust doctors to write prescriptions for their patients? The purpose of a dispensary is to limit marijuana’s use to the amount prescribed and to those who medically need it. A prescription is based on what has been proven to be safe.
Perhaps the city council could talk to Hospice workers, physicians and families of cancer patients to gain a valid perspective of why Ohio has decided to make medical marijuana available. These knowledgeable people could give a more accurate and compassionate view of this situation than what has been already offered to the council.
Mary Lou Shaw, M.D.
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