The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

December 10, 2013

Medical marijuana deserves a look

Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier Dec. 6
The Clinton Herald

---- — At least one state legislator has stated that he will pursue the legalization of medical marijuana in Iowa during the upcoming 2014 session.

We’d favor hearing some further discussion. If that discussion takes place, we’d like to see the possibility get a fair look.

Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, told The Associated Press that he will pursue such legislation even though similar efforts have failed over the past decade. During that time, however, more states — including some in the Midwest — have come to the conclusion that the medical benefits outweigh any further possibilities of abuse.

To date, a total of 20 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana, although their oversight policies and procedures vary. Those oversight policies go a long way in determining the success of the law.

We feel it’s time for an objective, open and honest discussion on the pros and cons of the medical use of marijuana.

“I think we’re a cautious state. We have some conservative views on this issue,” Bolkcom said. “I think what has been missing in Iowa is the compelling stories and recently, people are courageously coming forward and are sharing stories about not getting the care they need.”

Supporters of legalization of medical marijuana use say it eases symptoms of illnesses like cancer, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

According to The Associated Press, a 2010 poll conducted for The Des Moines Register showed that 64 percent of Iowa residents favored legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Regulation would be an important safeguard. The state has already shown that it has the capability, regulating pseudoephedrine — an ingredient in many cold and allergy medicines that abusers use to make methamphetamine — with successful results.

Bolkcom has stated that he plans to offer two bills in the next session. One would re-classify marijuana as a drug with medical benefits. The other would create a medical marijuana program modeled on the system in New Mexico. That program features strict oversight for patients seeking the drug for medical needs.

The New England Journal of Medicine has written in favor of marijuana’s medical use. In 2008, the nation’s second-largest group of physicians, the American College of Physicians, also came out in favor or marijuana use for some medical conditions.

That includes chemotherapy-induced nausea and appetite loss.

In the interests of quality-of-life issues, a prospective pain, nausea or lack-of-appetite remedy that could aid in the comfort of some of our sickest patients should be given a discerning and fair look.