Our Federal laws must change to accept reality!

by Arthur Livermore


My name is Arthur Livermore and I am the National Director of the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis. Itís 2010. Forty years ago the Controlled Substances Act was passed, the Drug Enforcement Administration was created, and the war on marijuana began. I was in my first year of medical school and had just smoked marijuana for the first time. After getting a biology degree at Reed College, I was curious about cannabis. I searched the medical school library for information about cannabis and found only statements that it was a ďdrug of abuseĒ. What does that mean? It doesnít tell you anything about what it does. What are the effects of marijuana?

We now know that marijuana has many uses. A recent report from the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) in California has proven that smoked marijuana is effective in treating chronic nerve pain and muscle spasms in patients who were not adequately treated by other medicines. This government supported research confirms the results of previous studies. Those who scoff at the medical effectiveness of Cannabis donít have a leg to stand on.

Our Federal laws must change to accept reality. Marijuana is an effective medicine. Political resistance to removing criminal sanctions from the use of marijuana will not be tolerated. Discrimination against people who possess marijuana is ending. Discrimination against people who grow marijuana is ending. Discrimination against people who like marijuana is ending.

But how do we get the change we must have to complete this journey? It is not enough to say that the States should be free to regulate medical marijuana. Federal law must change. The Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act must be passed. Action on the rescheduling petition which was filed nine years ago is long overdue.

You can help by sending letters, emails, faxes and calling your Senators and Representatives. Tell them that you are upset by the actions of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration). Tell them that itís not OK to arrest people who are legally growing and distributing medical marijuana.

With the addition of New Jersey this year, we now have medical marijuana laws in 14 states and the District of Columbia. This year Oregon will be voting on an initiative to allow people to buy medical marijuana at licensed dispensaries. This initiative will also fund clinical research. We will be able to help people by identifying the cannabinoids in various strains of cannabis. The natural cannabinoid delta-9-tetrahydrocannabivarin (Delta-9-THCV) decreases seizure activity in a rat model of epilepsy. Which variety of marijuana has the highest THCV level? Cannabidiol (CBD) has anti-psychotic properties. Which strain is the best source of CBD? Right now, there is no way to find out except by trial and error. With our new law, we will be able to have each strain tested. Patients will be able to buy marijuana that they know will work for their condition.

Young people today are discovering that marijuana is good medicine for psychological problems. Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan find that cannabis relieves the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Many people find that it helps them deal with their anger. Marijuana improves cognitive ability in patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. It helps people with obsessive-compulsive disorder to forget, and to laugh, at their own obsessions and compulsions. Marijuana treats the anxiety, lack of attention and impulsivity associated with Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and it works better than any other medicine for many autistic children as well as adults.

California will be voting on an initiative to legalize marijuana for all adults in November. Oregon may also have an initiative on the ballot to allow all adults to use marijuana. This change will allow people to use marijuana in social situations as an alternative to alcohol. People who have problems with alcohol will be able to deal with social anxiety by using marijuana instead of alcohol.

Arresting people for marijuana makes no sense. But we arrested more than 800,000 people for marijuana in 2008 and every year we are arresting more people than the year before. Legal marijuana will allow law enforcement to spend their time and resources on violent behavior. Marijuana is known for its ability to calm agitated people. Alcohol is known for the violent behavior that excessive use can cause.

Marijuana is an attitude adjustment. It stimulates creative thinking. In addition to its physical effects, marijuana helps people psychologically. It enables people to feel a sense of well-being.

So much of what we are told about marijuana is based on false assumptions. A new federal research project is looking for a negative effect of THC in mice. Recently, the NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse) stated that they were not interested in funding research intended to find positive effects of marijuana. Since the NIDA controls all marijuana research in the US, we must rely on scientists in other countries to look for the benefits of marijuana. Our tax dollars are being spent on moralizing under the guise of medical research.

We cannot afford the financial and social cost of marijuana prohibition. We can limit the recreational use of marijuana by minors, but our current policy makes it easier for minors to get marijuana than alcohol or cigarettes. An ineffective policy does not deserve to survive. Our marijuana policy has not reduced teen marijuana use. It has increased it. We cannot continue to pretend that good intentions are all that matters.

The cannabis plant has many valuable uses. It makes no sense to ignore the benefits of cannabis, hemp, marijuana in the modern world.

The Politics and Science of Medical Marijuana - Donald Abrams, M.D., Robert DuPont, M.D., Rob Kampia, Tim Lynch (Cato Institute)

Arthur Livermore, Eugene Oregon May 2, 2009
Arthur Livermore
Photo © Allan Erickson

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