It Is Important For Voters To Make Informed Decisions

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Editor:

Thank you for placing the article, “What you need to know about Prop. 203 and medical marijuana,” on the “Opinion” page, though I wonder how many readers stop to think what that means.

It is important to realize that such an article on the “Opinion” page is just that, opinion. In this case, the Gila County Meth Coalition, author of the article, is a group that opposes Prop. 203 and the medical use of marijuana. Therefore, their facts may or may not stand up to scrutiny.

For example, the article states that “the FDA doesn’t recognize smoking marijuana as a treatment for any medical conditions.” While it is true that the FDA thus far refused to schedule marijuana for medical use, this opinion, from 1970 and still held today in spite of centuries of use around the world for medical conditions, is at variance with many other equally responsible sources that support the medical use of marijuana such as the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Nurses Association, the American Public Health Association and others.

The opinion stated that “It’s a proven fact that it’s a gateway drug which tends to lead to more serious drug issues” contradicts other equally valid studies that have determined that is not generally the case, especially not even close to the statistics cited. Many “facts” are open to question, partly because the statements represent not known information, but assumptions based on certain biases much like those which brought about the enactment of Prohibition years ago.

As is usual in polarized discussions of controversial subjects, each side cherry picks their statistics and their experts, not to have an honest discussion about the merits of the question, but to “win” the argument.

Sad for our democracy, but true nonetheless.

I would like to encourage citizens to question the sources of the opinions and facts they are presented with, wherever they come from, and then to do some research on their own to decide what makes sense to them. One Web site that might be helpful is www.procon.org. An independent organization collects the data on both sides of contentious issues and reports the pros and cons. Summaries may be found there on both sides of the medical marijuana debate and other major issues.

I know that the long divisive campaigning before each election can be tiresome and infuriating. But let’s not be sheep, accepting whatever is thrown at us on the TV, the blogs, or in the print media. Instead let’s try to really understand what is at stake and make informed decisions as best we can before we vote.

When it comes to the medical use of marijuana, remember that you may not be a person in horrible, untreatable pain desperately seeking relief, but you could be.

Marilyn Decker

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