Medical marijuana’s time comes

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: March 21 2014 | 12:01 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:56 am in

By The Gazette Editorial Board

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The vast majority of Iowans think itís just fine to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for medical use. State legislators and the governor arenít so sure. They want more time to discuss the idea, review more research, before deciding whether to make such use legal in Iowa.

Meanwhile, Iowans with major medical problems including seizures, chronic pain and nausea, epilepsy and other severe conditions for which they have found no relief from legal prescribed treatments are traveling to states offering medical marijuana programs, desperate to find some help.

Many are wounded veterans or kids with debilitating diseases.

This situation needs to be remedied in favor of the patients.

A new poll by Quinnipiac University found that 87 percent of Iowans support legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. That huge majority includes at least 68 percent of every political party and gender and age group.

A pollís results should not be the sole reason to change the law. Legislators are right to be cautious in how such a law is crafted, implemented and enforced. And as Iowans in this poll also indicated, we arenít about to support legalizing recreational or other personal use of marijuana. The effects of frequent use on brain development in teens and young adults is a real threat.

However, limited, regulated use for targeted medical needs is a different matter. Iowa legislators can look to New Mexico for a model that works in the publicís interest. Itís well regulated and abuses have been minimal. An Iowa native and physician headed that stateís startup program and has testified before our state lawmakers.

Yes, no matter how well regulated, thereís potential for abuse ó as there already is with legal prescription pain killers that are more dangerous than marijuana, such as hydrocodone, morphine and oxycodone.

Thatís not a good enough reason to deny patients in crisis supervised access to medical marijuana. Iowa must not drag its feet much longer on this issue.

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