Legalized Marijuana

legalized medical marijuanaIllinois has recently passed legislation to become one of 20 states that currently supports decriminalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Although the law doesn’t go into effect until January 2014, one clinic has already opened it’s doors to potential users in order to establish a “prior relationship” with clients before they may be prescribed the marijuana early next year, as reported in a Chicago Tribune article.

Located in Chicago’s Wicker Park, the clinic was opened by physician Brian Murray, who runs another clinic in Michigan where patients may be prescribed the controversial substance. According to his spokesperson in the article, Murray believes opening now will give those without a previous relationship with another physician a chance to establish one with him – in time for next year’s effective date. An established relationship with a providing physician is one of the conditions of Illinois’ new law.And for that, some clients were charged $99 towards an individual care plan to be formulated later, the source wrote.

It would be naïve to believe there won’t be money to be made by those allowed to cultivate, prescribe or dispense the weed.Illinois is said to have some of the most restrictive criteria for prescribing the marijuana, which for some brings a sigh of relief, since different states have handled the situation in different ways. In places like California, one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana, getting a prescription is about as easy as buying a pack of cigarettes. Clinics are competitive and run ads trying to beat the competition. The criteria are so loose that most can think up a reason these doctors will buy. Interesting to note, though, the state did not pass a bill a few years back to legalize it for recreational use, like Colorado and Washington did last year. Taxation vexations perhaps??

There are several legitimate reasons marijuana may be useful.

Cancer patients may quell nausea and develop appetite. Easing intraocular pressure for those with glaucoma is a common use. It can ease spasms in MS patients. Some claim it works for pain and it’s immunosuppressant qualities may be promising for those with autoimmune conditions, but not so good for those with already compromised immune systems. Still, HIV patients find the drug to be helpful in easing symptoms.

Whether legal for medical reasons or recreational, the battle wears on.

Is it truly a gateway drug for teens? Will it give those most impressionable a green light to get high? Is this like easing prohibition on something society wants, or is criminalizing it an effort not to repeat the mistakes made with our most toxic mood-altering substance – alcohol – by making it such a socially accepted product that our culture bathes in it?

Marijuana is addictive, complete with tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when chronic usage is stopped.

It impairs learning, driving, affects fertility, causes lung damage and memory loss. Let’s not even go there with the apathy common in addicts. Perhaps physicians should be mindful and selective, so as not to create an atmosphere where recreational users are given carte blanche. If it is to be prescribed as a medicinal treatment, that’s how it should be used. Perhaps Illinois’ rigid guidelines may help prevent what happened in California.

There are synthetic medications containing some of the active proponents, but according to one Indiana Rheumatologist who prefers to be anonymous, the medication is strong and users develop a tolerance quickly. He believes the problem with marijuana as a treatment option in general is that scientists need to find a way to get around the tolerance that develops, sometimes making the side effects outweigh the benefits.

Marijuana use in teens

Teens are most vulnerable to peer pressure, and marijuana use continues to be a problem – some moving into other addictions and some becoming addicted to marijuana to the point where their daily life is negatively impacted. If you know someone addicted to marijuana, there is help.  Talk with a professional who can help you understand what you’re dealing with and how to find help.

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