The medical cannabis issue is not about abstractions. It is about people. Copious research has shown many medical conditions benefit from the controlled use of cannabis. Children who can be relieved from multiple seizures are the most poignant examples. Many adults with acute pain and suffering can be helped, including cancer patients, those with neurological disorders and veterans with PTSD.
Janet experienced the heartbreak of watching her previously active 59-year-old son die of cancer. At his second home in a Western state, he had a card to give him access to medical cannabis, but his friends and family were in Iowa. Like many cancer patients, he had a choice between severe pain or being so doped up on painkillers he could not spend his last days having meaningful relationships. Medical cannabis would have given him some pain relief without forcing him to tune out. Why are we in Iowa denying this vital humanitarian benefit to people during their last days of life?
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Many reasons cited for not legalizing cannabis turn out to be myths. One myth is legalization leads to recreational use, especially by young people. That has not been the experience of other states. Another myth is there is no way to effectively regulate the drug to prevent nonmedical uses. In fact, many states, including Minnesota, have sophisticated systems to block recreational use. More powerful and addictive drugs such as morphine are legal for medical use. A third myth is there is not enough research on medical cannabis. In fact, there is a growing body of such research, despite the federal government’s prior attempts to suppress it.
Getting medication to people who need it would be seem to be something everyone could support, whether Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative. In fact, 80 percent of Iowans in a recent poll supported it. However, the lingering biases of some legislators are blocking sensible legislation to make this drug available. Such legislators, particularly those in leadership positions blocking consideration of such measures, need to hear from Iowans that it is time to move forward and make this help available to the many Iowans who need it.