WHAT OTHERS SAY: Medical use of drugs has value; recreational use does not

Saturday, April 12, 2014 | 4:57 p.m. CDT

Some drugs used to treat medical maladies also can be used to get high.

We have no problem with the medicinal use of drugs.

We are concerned, however, that we are becoming a drug-addled society, reflected both in drug abuse and the use of mood-altering substances as recreation.

A number of states, including Missouri, are grappling with laws related to marijuana, including legalization, decriminalization, and the medicinal use of both marijuana and canabis extract.

Bills gaining bipartisan support in the legislature would permit the use of cannabinol oil for medical patients who suffer seizures. The oil, also called CBD, is a compound in cannabis used to treat some ailments and alleviate certain symptoms.

It does not, however, create a high for the user — in medical cases, the patient.

The Missouri bill, specifically, would permit use of “hemp extract” with no more than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and at least 5 percent CBD.

Patients or their parents would be required to obtain a registration card, and the drug could be used only for epilepsy that is not responding to at least three treatment options. The state’s Agriculture Department would be authorized to grow marijuana and universities could be certified to cultivate them for research.

“This is one to me that is kind of a no-brainer,” said Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-St. Louis County. “You can’t get high on it. It can help some families.”

Schmitt's family is among those that could be helped; his 9-year-old son suffers from epilepsy and daily seizures.

The proposed bill has won the support of the Republican House speaker, majority leader and Democratic leaders. It is sponsored by Rep. Caleb Jones, R-Columbia.

In her March 25 column for the News Tribune, substance abuse counselor Angie Carter wrote: “My real concern is not the legalization of marijuana, but the bigger picture. Why has our society become so geared to a variety of potentially harmful mood-altering behaviors, such as drugs, alcohol, smoking, overeating, video games, gambling, pornography, shopping and spending in order to feel good, numb out, relax, be happy or have fun? I think this is the discussion the country should be having and examine the reasons or the root causes of such behaviors.”

We agree, wholeheartedly.

The legislation being considered, however, is not about altering moods; it is about medicine. The outcome is not potential harm; it is potential help.

A drawback of this bill is that it already is being exploited by pro-marijuana forces, including Show-Me Cannabis.

We trust lawmakers to approve this bill on its medicinal merits, not as a doorway to increasingly dangerous drug use.

Copyright Jefferson City News Tribune. Reprinted with permission.

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