Pushing users underground

There is the stereotype that someone who wants to take pot for pain relief of their medical condition must have another agenda, must want the government to endorse a pre-existing habit, must want to make money selling the excess on the street, must be someone trying to trick the system when there's perfectly good pain medication on the market and so on.

As Christine Hinzmann shows in her feature today about Tom, a local man who grows and uses medical marijuana to deal with the horrible and permanent side effects of his cancer treatment, stereotypes aren't always based in reality.

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Tom is a responsible senior who researched the good and bad about taking marijuana for pain extensively. He liked what he read.

Prescription pain medications are dispensed carefully by doctors because there is a long history of addiction attached to powerful drugs that dull pain. Marijuana, on the other hand, is nowhere near as addictive to many pain killers and it has several other positive benefits for someone like Tom. It helps him sleep, which became a major issue during his cancer treatment, and it soothes his feelings of anxiety.

Tom is aware enough to know it does affect his ability to concentrate, which is why he takes his dose of marijuana in the form of a cookie in the early evening, when he's settled in the for the night and isn't going to be driving or doing anything else that requires a sharp mind.

Tom's research included figuring out what the best daily dose was for him and the best format for him to receive it. As a sufferer of throat cancer, smoking a joint was not an option. After more study, Tom found a detailed recipe to create a marijuana butter infusion that works great with cookies.

Tom's responsibility extends to growing the marijuana. He only grows what he needs and he brought in an electrician to make sure the wiring in his garage could put out enough power for the lights and heat needed to produce his supply safely.

Unfortunately, the federal government doesn't trust responsible adults like Tom to take care of themselves and make good decisions about the production and administration of an already easily accessible drug. Instead, they will drive citizens like Tom underground. He's prepared to try the government's new rules next spring to see if he can meet his needs but if it doesn't work, he'll just acquire marijuana illegally, either by growing it himself or just buying it off the street.

The feds don't want to take the time and the money to weed out the responsible users like Tom from the ones abusing the system, so Tom is being lumped in with the bad apples, possibly forcing him to skirt the law in the process.

Registering all users and growers of medical marijuana with the local police and with municipal government and/or regional health authorities would allow for proper oversight and better protection of the community, without violating privacy. It's a simple, local solution to address legal growers and then deal with problems on a case-by-case basis.

Sadly, this seems like a classic case of throwing out the baby with the bath water.

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