Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the day medical marijuana use went mainstream.
On March 17, 1999, researchers at the Institute for Medicine published a study on medical cannabis: “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base.” The study “concluded marijuana possessed medicinal properties to treat and control pain and to stimulate appetite—provided the issue with long-overdue credibility, and began in earnest a political discourse that continues today.”
Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Washington, DC, is the co-author of the forthcoming book Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? to be published by Chelsea Green. Here’s more from his article for Reason:
Whereas researchers in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s primarily assessed cannabis’s ability to temporarily alleviate various disease symptoms, scientists today are exploring the potential role of medical marijuana to treat disease itself.
Of particular interest, scientists are investigating marijuana’s capacity to moderate autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as their role in the treatment of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
As hundreds of thousands of Americans have begun using marijuana under their doctor’s supervision, we’ve learned other lessons as well. First, we’ve affirmed that medical cannabis is remarkably safe. For example, in 2008 investigators at McGill University in Montreal reviewed over 30 years of data on marijuana and “did not find a higher incidence rate of serious adverse events associated with medical cannabis use” compared to those who never used the drug.
We’ve also discovered that restricted patient access to medicinal cannabis will not necessarily result in higher use rates among young people. In fact, since the passage of Proposition 215, the use of pot by young people has fallen at a greater rate than the national average.
And finally we’ve learned—much to the chagrin of our opponents—that in fact the sky will not fall. Rates of hard drug use and drugged driving have not increased in California, and our social value system has not “gone to pot.”