On November 5, 1996, Californians voiced their honest opinion. Californians voted yes on a very controversial proposition - proposition 215. This law allows doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients with diseases that have severe symptoms. For example, cancer patients that undergo chemo-therapy and suffer from severe nausea and aching can benefit from smoking marijuana. Marijuana helps these patients get through these very painful symptoms by numbing the body and soothing the stomach. It also improves the appetites of AIDS patients and increases their weight and chance of survival. Marijuana also helps MS patients with bladder control and tremors.
The use of marijuana for medical purposes is not a new issue. The Marijuana Tax Act made the cultivation or possession of marijuana illegal in 1937, but it only has been a heated issue since the 1960's. In 1970, Congress passed the Controlled Substance Act, which placed all illicit drugs into 5 categories. Marijuana was placed under the category of "Schedule 1," because Congress decided that it has no medical use and a high potential for abuse of the "drug." But in 1970, Congress hardly new the potential benefits of marijuana for medical purposes because chemo-therapy wasn't even an issue back then, just as NORML pointed out in their petition to change the scheduling in 1972. NORML (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws) insisted that Congress had made their decision without accurate information about the plant. In 1975, the IND began a program that would allow patients to receive marijuana from the government. This program lasted until 1992, when Congress discontinued it. Not more than a year ago, the same request for the rescheduling of marijuana was presented to Congress and it was once again, denied.
In 1990, the Drug Advisory Board stated that "personal use and cultivation should be legalized." The Drug Advisory Board wanted to legalize marijuana for all purposes, not just for medical use because it would benefit our economy by being a taxable good and it would decrease crime over obtaining the "drug."
Opponents to the legalization of marijuana are those who consider marijuana a "gateway" drug, which lead users to more harmful drugs. These assumptions have no real facts supporting them because in 1995, a survey was taken by the National Survey on Drug Abuse. The Survey found that 20% of illicit drug users smoke marijuana and that 57% of illicit drug users smoke only marijuana.
Proposition 215 would legalize the cultivation, possession, and smoking of marijuana legal for persons with prescriptions for it. Even though the people of California voted yes of proposition 215, the United States Supreme Court denied it because it went against federal drug initiative prohibiting the possession and cultivation of marijuana. This is ridiculous. Whose to say that the government can let a cancer patient suffer when there is a medicine that can sooth his or her pain. People who are terminally ill do not deserve to be put in jail because they are only trying to feel better and relieve some of the nasty side effects of medicines for their sickness.
Source: Gooding, Robert. "Healthy Marijuana," July 1996,
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