What You Need To Know About Prop. 203 And Medical Marijuana

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What do you know about marijuana (cannabis)? What do you know about medical marijuana? What do you know about Arizona’s Proposition 203?

The Gila County Meth Coalition is committed to educating the public about not only meth, but the abuse of all addictive drugs. There are many illegal drugs and legal drugs that if abused are just as deadly. It is important that you know the facts, so here is what you need to know about Prop. 203, which will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

First of all, U.S. federal law bans marijuana use of any sort and possession of marijuana is a felony, which advocates of the proposition want to change. How will it change? Anyone with “severe and intractable pain” which can be anything from a sprained ankle to an occasional headache can apply for a medical registration card. With the card they can purchase and use marijuana even though the FDA doesn’t recognize smoking marijuana as a treatment for any medical conditions.

Currently 14 states and Washington, D.C. have enacted laws that legalize medical marijuana. California, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico are a few of the neighboring states that permit this, with ID card fees and possession limits varying from state to state.

In Montana, more than 90 percent of marijuana patients have pain. Or claim to. Few patients have serious illnesses like cancer, multiple sclerosis or glaucoma.

The proposition will appear on the ballot as follows:

A “Yes” vote shall have the effect of authorizing the use of medical marijuana for people with debilitating medical conditions who obtain a written certification from a physician and establishing a regulatory system governed by the Arizona Department of Health Services for establishing and licensing medical marijuana dispensaries.

A “No” vote shall have the effect of retaining current law regarding the use of marijuana. (Current ARS 13-3405: A person shall not knowingly possess or use marijuana, possess marijuana for sale, produce marijuana, transport for sale. A person who violates is guilty of a Class 6 Felony.)

Pro-marijuana groups talk about elderly people with cancer and glaucoma, never mentioning that 98 percent of the pot goes to people with no serious medical problems at all, and are under 45 years of age. Can you imagine taking brownies laced with marijuana to your granny in a nursing home? And it would be legal?

Well, if Proposition 203 passes in November and becomes ARS 36-2805, nursing homes and assisted living facilities wouldn’t be able to make “unreasonable” restrictions on marijuana use by residents unless the limitations are required in order to avoid being fined or losing their license.

What would be next? Would we follow California in proposing legalization of marijuana for “adult recreational use”? Where would it stop?

What effect will the legalization of medical marijuana have on our children? States with these laws have higher rates of both teenage drug use and traffic fatalities caused by marijuana.

When asked her opinion on the matter, Detention Sgt. Christine Duarte, Gila County Sheriff’s Office stated, “There’s too much marijuana going around as it is. The kids have too much access without legalizing it. Eighty percent of our inmates (population at the county jail) started off by smoking marijuana, and then got into meth and harder drugs.”

According to Lt. Mike Johnson, Gila County Sheriff’s Office, “It’s a proven fact that it’s a gateway drug which tends to lead to more serious drug issues — such as cocaine and prescription medications.”

OK, let’s say the law passes, then what? Will medical pot dispensaries pop up everywhere — maybe near our schools, near our churches, near our playgrounds? In San Francisco, where medical marijuana has been legalized since 1996, city leaders remain wary of the potential for increased criminal activity at or near dispensaries.

Studies have found that the medical benefits don’t outweigh the negative effects of marijuana use. Research on long-term effects of marijuana abuse indicates some changes in the brain similar to those seen after long-term abuse of other major drugs. Long-term marijuana use can lead to addiction; compulsive drug seeking and abuse despite its known harmful effects upon social functioning in the context of family, school, work and recreational activities.

One study found that an abuser’s risk of heart attack more than quadruples in the first hour after smoking marijuana, probably because it increases both blood pressure and heart rate as well as reduces oxygen-carrying capacity of blood.

This is a direct quote from a recent article by columnist E. J. Montini of The Arizona Republic, “… extended use of marijuana is said to make a person listless and inattentive, almost zombie-like. Which means that should the proposition pass in November, Arizonans must insist that one particular group of needy ‘patients’ be first in line for cannabis prescriptions: Politicians.”

As our space is limited, we would like to leave you with another quote from Gila County Sheriff’s Office Bureau Commander Claudia DalMolin, “Knowledge is power.” Please take time to get educated on this subject before you go to the polls.

References:

“Critics hoping pot effort goes up in smoke,” E. J. Montini, Arizona Republic, 09/02/10

Internet sources:

“Medical marijuana (cannabis) ballot language finalized,” Arizona Department of Health Services Director’s Blog, Will Humble, ADHS Director, 09/02/10

“WikiAnswers — How bad is marijuana for you,” 09/07/10

“Who says marijuana is good medicine?” Cannabisnews.org 09/02/10

“California city approves marijuana farming — U.S.news — Life — msnbc.com 07/21/10

“South San Francisco plans ban extension on medical marijuana,” The Mercury News —MercuryNews.com, 09/07/10

For questions or more information on the Gila County Meth Coalition contact chair, Claudia DalMolin at the Gila County Sheriff’s Office, (928) 425-4440; co-chair, Bianca DalMolin-Giberti, (928) 701-1790; facilitator, Misty Cisneros-Contreras, (928) 402-1879; or media liaison, Lu DuBois, (928) 425-4440, ext. 4321.

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