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Medical Marijuana is a hot topic everywhere these days, from social media and college campuses to politics and doctors offices. Many states have legalized the medicinal use of Marijuana for certain illnesses, some have legalized it recreationally and others have just voted on this very issue. Controversy surrounds this topic as it would with any political hot button issue and the pendulum seems to swing both ways, with those for legalization and those in opposition never seeming to come to any sort of middle ground.
A question that must be considered in the marijuana debate is the effect the legalization of medical marijuana may have on todays children. Legalization in any form will potentially mean taking a substance that is currently illegal, the possession of which can land you in jail and have your children removed from your home, and turning it into a legal prescription or purchase that would take place at the local dispensary.
In most states, our country is looking at marijuana being legalized strictly for medicinal purposes, so what is the difference between a parent who uses marijuana to combat their illness or disease and a parent who takes any other prescription drug? Even looking at marijuana as a mood-altering drug, people around the country suffer from a variety of illnesses, including mental health disorders that require the use of anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications and that does not stop them from being extraordinary parents.
So, the question is: Will we discriminate against parents who, if legalized, opt to utilize medical marijuana to deal with the everyday stresses of their disease? Multiple studies have found that medical marijuana can be used to treat cancer, arthritis, Crohns disease, epilepsy, glaucoma, migraines, and multiple sclerosis/muscle spasms, in additional to many other illnesses. In order to obtain medical marijuana, the patient would have to have a prescription from a licensed physician.
These are recognized diseases and illnesses, most incurable, that cause excruciating pain, loss of quality of life and potentially death, so why is our society refusing to allow these patients a viable medical option to disease/medication management? A large majority of those suffering from cancer or Crohn’s disease will admit the use of “prescription grade” medical marijuana is their only relief. In addition to the relaxing effects of the drug, it allows them to eat, relieves their nausea, and in the case of many gastrointestinal disorders, literally helps heal the digestive tract. Medical use or legalization would also allow further study of the drug itself to discover other potentially healing abilities.
The known side effects of medical marijuana are also far less frightening than those of the available prescription medications. Before you judge someone treating their illness with medical marijuana, or even cast your vote in the ballot box, look at the traditional medications available, the gloomy remission rates, and the scary side effects that accompany each one of these FDA approved medications.
Unfortunately a large part of the problem stems from the opinions Americans hold of the prescription process when it comes to obtaining medical marijuana. Many believe it is a joke with little to no screening for “actual” illnesses. However, this assumption could not be more wrong. The vetting process for doctors to become licensed to prescribe, patients to receive and dispensaries to fill these orders is daunting in and of itself.
The American people need to educate themselves on this extremely regulated process before forming an opinion. This is not the local drug dealer on the corner, but rather a potentially huge medical industry with the ability to heal, or at least relieve the suffering of, millions with less detriment than that of traditional drugs.
Understandably we should be concerned with the use of any drugs by participating members of our society, particularly parents. Living in Florida, I saw the absolute disaster caused by the pill mills and the utter devastation to families because of the prolific use of prescription drugs. The number of children in foster care skyrocketed and our correctional facilities were bursting at the seams. Working in the criminal justice system, and with children and families no less, I have witnessed first-hand the disaster the over-use of prescription medication can cause. Having adopted 2 children out of foster care whose parents were addicted to prescription drugs, I can say the same.
But the reality is how many people do we still see obtaining prescriptions for dangerous pain pills on a regular basis? How is the ability or decision of a parent to abuse those very drugs any different than the decision to abuse a prescription for marijuana? Further, how much more dangerous have opioids and prescription pain pills been proven to be?
Being married to a spouse who suffers from Crohn’s disease, I assure you hydrocodone, oxycodone, and all its variations still come standard in the prescription pack from hospital and doctors visits when you suffer from many of the above listed ailments even though they have absolutely no healing properties, are extremely addictive, and truly can worsen many of the symptoms.
Marijuana is no different than alcohol from a recreational standpoint and absolutely no different than pain pills from a prescription standpoint other than in its actual ability to combat disease. Marijuana helps those with cancer and gastrointestinal illnesses to eat regularly, it allows those with epilepsy and muscle spasms to stop seizing and have a quality of life that most of us take for granted. The fact that people suffering from these illnesses are parents (and children) should be all the more reason to legalize a natural medical alternative to prescription drugs that does not have the awful side effects many of the prescription drugs do.
With marijuana, whats the worst thats going to happen suffering parents are going to receive relief and eat a pizza and a few bags of chips while laughing at cartoons with their kids? Parents who need marijuana for medical purposes are going to be just as careful with their prescription as they are now with their pills.
They will have multiple options for ingestion from pills to inhalants to edibles all of which they will keep away from their children accordingly. They are still going to be responsible, loving parents who utilize their medications in an appropriate and sensible manner. Parents will not be toking up with their 2-year-olds or driving while high with their children in the car simply because they can finally receive some relief in the form of a medication that actually has more positive than negative side effects.
Medical Marijuana is the relief so many Americans – both adults and children – need. In a world where there is too much negativity, too much regulation and too much stress already imposed upon our sick, let us offer them some relief. None of these people asked for these diseases and so many are hard-working parents of innocent children simply trying to make it through the day, not addicts searching for a quick-fix.
Medical Marijuana would give them a chance; medical marijuana would be safe, regulated and taxed, not sold on a street corner with questionable additives. Show compassion to those who are suffering, show understanding to those who are sick, open your mind and educate yourself before you cast your vote or judge others as we truly never know what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes.