Medical Marijuana?

Today's local news includes the arrests of 4 people licensed to grow marijuana for folks with medical marijuana cards.  The four were arrested for not only growing the number of plants authorized under Oregon's medical marijuana law, but a good deal more they were shipping "back east" for profit.  The statistics on medical marijuana in Oregon are fairly interesting.

Our law allows doctors to prescribe marijuana for a range of illnesses including severe pain, the effects of chemotherapy, glaucoma and nausea.  Only 3% of Oregon's doctors have prescribed marijuana for 2 or more patients.
10 doctors account for two-thirds of the current and pending marijuana card requests.  Two doctors -- Dr. Phillip Leveque of Molalla and Dr. Larry Bogart of Roseburg -- have been disciplined by the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners for inappropriate recommendation of medical marijuana. Leveque, an 81-year-old osteopath, had his license suspended in March and revoked in October. He said he had signed several thousand medical marijuana requests.  The board in October also stripped Bogart, a 66-year-old psychiatrist who said he has signed more than 1,000 medical marijuana applications during the past five years, of his ability to treat children, prescribe controlled drugs or sign marijuana card applications.  Red Orbit 2005
Dr. Phillip Leveque has granted 49.7 percent of Oregon's medical-marijuana cards since the law went into effect in May 1999. New York Times 2002
In Oregon, people must suffer from way more seizures, severe pain and glaucoma than in California or Colorado.  With a similar population and similar law, one-twentieth as many Coloradans hold a medical marijuana card as here in Oregon.

There are 10 TIMES MORE people in California than in Oregon but close to the same number of medical marijuana cards (OR: 50,000 and CA: 53,000).  Even more glaring are the current year numbers:  8,600 new cards in California this year versus 23,000 new applications in Oregon the same year.

Forgive me if I'm a bit cynical about this program.  I do not deny that marijuana -- like all drugs -- likely has valuable medical uses.  But when the same organizations pushing for recreational legalization are the main advocates for medical marijuana patients, it's hard to focus on the medical issues.  And when a handful of doctors travel the state, advertising they'll be staying in a room at the local hotel to meet new patients and then prescribe one drug and one drug only for whatever ails the walk-ins, I tend a bit to cynicism.

Could we look past the ruse of medical use?  This is, always has been and likely will continue to be primarily a recreational drug.  It is not a good reason to fill our prisons to overflowing with users and dealers.  But we do need to find a reasonable response to the real situation.  The Oregon Legislature's latest response is to double the card fee from $100 to $200.  Not sure how that addresses the problem exactly but it's one of the few responses they could pass.

Recreational drugs are indeed a medical issue:  not as potentials for prescription but rather as medical problems to be addressed medically.  We have programs for alcohol and drug addictions.  Let's regulate marijuana like we do alcohol.  Or perhaps offer Medical Liquor Cards to folks with severe coughing and allow each cardholder to designate a still in her neighborhood.  Either way, our current approach is nonsensical.  Any doctor whose arsenal consists of just one tool -- medical marijuana or any other -- is a pusher not a medical practioner.

I'm guessing that since I offended half of my friends with my prior Sports blog, I've just lost the other half.

See also:  Walk
You Can Take a Pill for That
Sex and the Middle Schooler


  1. The dangers of smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol to excess are well documented, with hundreds of thousands dead in the U.S. ALONE EACH YEAR. Where are the dead bodies from cannabis use? Pills are a far worse problem than cannabis as well.
    And u say................
    Could we look past the ruse of medical use?
    Do you know anyone with chronic pain? Or someone who has no appetite? Or someone who takes handfulls of RX pills everyday? Cannabis is safe and effective. It has an extremely high LD50 and it grows on trees! It is the safest medicine/herb/drug on the planet that treats more ailments than any other medicine/drug.

  2. Stating that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco is one thing. Suggesting that it's good for you is quite another. Again, I don't doubt some medicinal value. I do doubt whether Oregon's 50,000 card holders are medically valid. And I draw the line at encouraging general use as though it were rather like spinach.


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