Medical Marijuana a Threat to Nation's Well-Being and Health

By Barrett Duke

The decision by the Obama administration to surrender to bad state policies on
so-called medicinal marijuana will have disastrous effects.

Medicinal marijuana is the Trojan horse of the marijuana
decriminalization movement. The movement sees it as the means to appeal to
people's compassion in order to change public opinion about marijuana and ease
the way toward decriminalization of marijuana. The Obama administration's
decision to cave on enforcement of federal drug laws against marijuana
distribution represents the dropping of the first shoe on decriminalization of
marijuana and signals the next one is coming.

With the federal
government out of the way, we can expect to see a rapid rise in marijuana
distributors and marijuana demand in states that have fallen victim to the
medical marijuana scam. None of this escalation will prove especially helpful to
the sick or to society. Those who use medicinal marijuana will pay the price
first, and then everyone else will. Marijuana is not a necessary or particularly
effective pain-relieving aid.

For years, the pain-relieving ingredient
in marijuana has been available by prescription. So, one cannot make the
argument that medicinal marijuana is a new addition to the pain-relief arsenal.
In fact, it isn't even that useful for pain relief. Most people who use
marijuana to help them cope with severe pain take other stronger pain relief
drugs in combination with marijuana because the pain relieving properties of
marijuana are not that potent.

On the other hand, smoking marijuana
threatens to make bad situations worse for many users. Marijuana introduces
multiple toxic chemicals into the systems of people whose bodies are already
weakened from their ailments. Not only might these toxic chemicals hinder
people's ability to fend off the cause of their pain by weakening their
defenses, but users risk developing additional problems related to their use of
marijuana, including respiratory ailments and addiction.

In addition,
the public's acceptance of marijuana as a medicinal aid will weaken resistance
to its recreational use. As it becomes more entrenched in our society, it will
be perceived as less dangerous. This will likely lead to more experimentation
with marijuana by our nation's young people. Since marijuana is undoubtedly a
gateway drug, we can expect to see even more of our nation's youth lose their
lives and their futures to drug addiction.

The last shoe to drop will be
the legalization of marijuana distribution for recreational purposes. As
marijuana use becomes part of the culture, we can expect to see a movement
toward decriminalization of all marijuana use and distribution. If marijuana is
decriminalized, we will see the rise of every kind of drug related problem, from
performance impairment to family disruption to addiction to crime to premature
death. This is not the kind of change America needs. What we need is the
enforcement of laws that protect the vulnerable and that help all Americans
achieve their greatest potential. What we don't need are more threats to that

Medicinal marijuana is a threat to our nation's wellbeing and
health, not a prescription for a better life. The Obama administration has just
made life more difficult for many of our fellow citizens and threatened the
future of many millions more. (Barrett Duke is vice president for public policy and research for the Southern
Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.)

Click here to read former Director of Drug Free America David E. Krahl's opposing view.



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