: Health,Psychology,Sağlık Blog-: Medical Marijuana Requests Higher Since Obama Term Began

Medical Marijuana Requests Higher Since Obama Term Began

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The rise in requests for medical marijuana has been dramatic of late. In various states where laws allow, dispensary owners recently admitted to an increase in 2009 requests for the pain reducer that ranges from 50 percent to as much as 300 percent. The high numbers seem to be implicitly linked to the stance of the Obama administration on the subject; the federal government will not interfere with state laws and patients who abide by them.

While some analysts insist the rise in medical marijuana requests pertains to the economic recession and subsequent growing number of Americans without health insurance, as they may turn to alternative and less expensive treatments for pain and disease, treatments like medical marijuana. However, most dispensary owners attribute the increase to the word from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that the Obama administration would not involve itself in state matters regarding medical marijuana.

The word first hit the medical marijuana community when the Obama for America campaign acknowledged its opposition to the Bush policy on the matter. A response letter to those inquiring on the subject read, in part: “Many states have laws that condone medical marijuana, but the Bush Administration is using federal drug enforcement agents to raid these facilities and arrest seriously ill people. Focusing scarce law enforcement resources on these patients who pose no threat while many violent and highly dangerous drug traffickers are at large makes no sense. Senator Obama will not continue the Bush policy when he is president.”

Though Holder has not always held the same view, he has changed course since his appointment as the Attorney General. And despite Drug Enforcement Administration raids that happened as Obama took office in late 2008 as a continuation of the Bush policy, which stated that federal law overrode that of the states, those have since been ordered to an end. Holder stated in February of 2009, “What the president said during the campaign, you’ll be surprised to know, will be consistent with what we’ll be doing in law enforcement… What he said during the campaign is now American policy.”

According to Colorado clinic numbers, applications for medical marijuana have risen significantly. As December 2008 came to a close, there were 4,720 applications on file, as compared to the 6,796 by February 28, 2009. While this certainly does not indicate that doctors are willing to authorize all of the new patients for marijuana use, the requests are difficult to ignore. And to accommodate, some dispensaries are paying doctors to be on staff and provide the oversight to patients whose own doctors are unwilling to sign off on the applications.

And more states are looking to provide the medical marijuana service for their residents, as a growing number of studies show that the drug is a safe and highly effective alternative to prescription medicines like morphine, in addition to being a form of miracle drug for cancer patients dealing with the effects of chemotherapy. New Hampshire and North Carolina are two states in the process of debating laws that would add them to the thirteen-state list of states already supportive of the medicinal qualities of marijuana. Those states are Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

With that said, some states are still involved in complicated and expensive court battles due to the Bush administration’s crackdown and blurring of the lines between federal and state laws. California, the first state to legalize medical marijuana 13 years ago, has lost every court battle with the federal government thus far but seeks to avenge those losses in a current appeals process.

Americans for Safe Access, an organization promoting the safe and legal access to marijuana for therapeutic use and research, recently sued the federal government on the basis that law prohibits the government from disseminating inaccurate information, such as that about the actual benefits of marijuana. In its most recent hearing in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, lawyers for Safe Access argued that the government must update its data and rely on current information.

Director of Safe Access Steph Sherer told the Los Angeles Times, “The science to support medical marijuana is overwhelming. It’s time for the federal government to acknowledge the efficacy of medical marijuana and stop holding science hostage to politics.”

If the Obama administration has anything to say about it, science will prevail over politics, as evidenced by President Obama’s strong stand on stem cell research. But it may take some time for the medical marijuana advocacy organizations to make their case on a federal level. In the meantime, the absence of federal government intervention in state laws regarding marijuana is a start. Patients who can find some peace in the face of chronic and overwhelming medical conditions may be able to rest or recover a bit easier without the fear of federal agents appearing at their local dispensary or their own front doors.

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