Despite the fact that voters in Arizona passed Proposition 203 in 2010 in favor of medical marijuana, there continues to be a push by those opposed. I often read statements from the opposition that simply don’t stand up to objective scrutiny. I am a former police officer who is now disabled. While I appreciate all opinions, I feel it’s paramount that debate be based on facts and logic and not simple emotion fueled by ideology.
When working as a police officer, you get used to the concept of putting emotions aside and going where facts lead you, and this is no different. As a sufferer of Crohn’s disease, I take notice when people feel the need to dictate to me and my fellow Americans how we should handle our health.
The following are statements published in articles by representatives of “Keep Arizona Drug Free.” They have often claimed that those in favor of medical marijuana accomplished passing Prop. 203 by spreading falsehoods and using deception.
They stated in February 2013: “Marijuana advocates depend on misleading the public to win elections. Opponents can defeat these initiatives only if they can expose the deception.” I agree, so let’s look at some statements and see what’s true and what’s not.
The following are allegations made by Keep Arizona Drug Free.
Allegation: “90 percent of the pot goes to people who claim pain, not serious illness.”
Reality: This claim came from a local CBS5 story that stated 90 percent was the statistic. This is false. The accurate number is 71.57 percent, which has been confirmed by the Department of Human Health Services. Other factors that should be noted are that there are a wide array of conditions not covered in the bill specifically by name, but would fall within “chronic” pain and are legitimate in nature such as sever back injuries, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, and arthritis just to name a few.
Allegation: “States with medical marijuana laws have much higher rates of teenage marijuana use, even when it’s strictly regulated. Voters never heard that message.”
Reality: This is false. In 2012, two years after Prop. 203 passed, the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission published a report that shows marijuana use among teens in Arizona has decreased. The report shows a slight increase among 10th and 12th graders; however, a large amount of use among eighth graders dropped the overall average in the state.
According to data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System report, compiled by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, use among teens in Colorado has decreased as well, from 24.85 percent to 22 percent, putting it below the national average.
Finally, I would like to end on an issue that lacks serious credibility. Opposition groups, such as Keep AZ Drug Free, often quote the FDA, DEA, or Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Keep AZ Drug Free states on its website:
“Marijuana is a Class I illegal substance under the Controlled Substance Act, because it has been found to have no acceptable medical use.”
This is true, in 2001, HHS put out the following statement: “Marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”
Here is where I take issue. One year later, in 2002, HHS filed U.S. Patent 6630507. This patent is for cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant. The patent on file states the following:
“Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties. This newfound property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.”
This is hypocrisy in its highest form. There is no way the position of the federal government can be quoted as a supporting argument against medical marijuana with any credibility while they hold a patent claiming the contrary.
Debate on marijuana is warranted and should be welcomed. This is an important issue; however, the facts should be presented honestly and ethically despite which side of the fence you are on. Are advocates for medical marijuana really being deceptive in their position as claimed? Or are the opponents to medical marijuana guilty of deception like those they accuse? You decide.
— Nick Dial is a former Arizona police officer and deputy. He is a Kaplan University Counter Terrorism and Homeland Security major, recently graduating with highest honors. He has appeared as an expert commentator on Fox News Radio, and has been published in academic journals as well as Police One.