Opinion: Medical Marijuana: Gateway to Disaster

By Steven E. Masone Special to Elk Grove News The legalization of marijuana for medicinal use has opened a "Pandora's Box" ...

By Steven E. Masone
Special to Elk Grove News

The legalization of marijuana for medicinal use has opened a "Pandora's Box" of dangers and issues that will come back and bite us with perhaps a "venomous infected wound. The clinics that we see advertised in every medium are in such fierce competition to get business, they are advertising "approval in 30 minutes." The subtle message being, "no one turned down."


Physicians who work in these "clinics" and are passing out medical marijuana cards like candy, are the bottom feeders of the medical field. A legitimate need for a medical card should only be given by a physician who knows and has treated the patient long enough to assess whether or not this hallucinogenic drug is right for the patient, but diagnosis and quantity of prescription also assessed by a medical examiner board without vested interests.

To indiscriminately pass out these cards to patients whose medical history one cannot possibly know, and understand how marijuana might effect their psychiatric disposition, and is borderline criminal,were it not sanctioned by the State and it's voters. But voters were duped into "being compassionate" to the patients, while it was really for financial gain rather than the heralded spin... "it helps as an alternative pain reliever."

When we open this kind of door to have a "Bonanza" of fast and easy money to anyone with an M.D. license, we will get Doctors who will do anything for a buck! Have sleeping problems? No sweat...in 30 minuets we will get you an Anesthetic medication ( Like Michael Jackson's Doctor prescribed him) that solved that sleeping disorder?

The slippery slope we are now on is going to ruin California's Health Care Quality, flooding us with the bottom rung of lower skilled physicians from other countries and those Physicians from here that no one else will employ. We will be in dire straits if we don't turn back the tide.

We went from "Valley of the Dolls" prescription flooding of ourselves with Valium and all of it's related tranquilizers, to mood stabilizers, psychotropic drugs to marijuana. Whats next? Legal Marijuana across the board.

There are many people whose minds are "mush" because of daily marijuana use all their lives. Medical evidence shows that this drug is not as harmless as you might think. The new "super strains" are genetically altered and at least ten times more potent then the marijuana of the seventies and eighties.

Brain-studies show a chronic marijuana users brain is abnormal, yet none of the side effect and dangers are being required to be advertised along with the promotion of it's "Alternative Virtues."

The only hope ironically now is Federal Intervention which erodes State's Rights, but marijuana usage increasing may be the greater "evil."

California voters will legalize, De-legalize, authorize, and unauthorized many things through our ballot initiative process that may very well be "Pandora's Box of Horrors."

One of many studies:


The most potent argument against the use of marijuana to treat medical disorders is that marijuana may cause the acceleration or aggravation of the very disorders it is being used to treat.

Smoking marijuana regularly (a joint a day) can damage the cells in the bronchial passages which protect the body against inhaled microorganisms and decrease the ability of the immune cells in the lungs to fight off fungi, bacteria, and tumor cells. For patients with already weakened immune systems, this means an increase in the possibility of dangerous pulmonary infections, including pneumonia, which often proves fatal in AIDS patients.

Studies further suggest that marijuana is a general "immunosuppressant" whose degenerative influence extends beyond the respiratory system. Regular smoking has been shown to materially affect the overall ability of the smokers body to defend itself against infection by weakening various natural immune mechanisms, including macrophages (a.k.a. "killer cells") and the all-important T-cells. Obviously, this suggests the conclusion, which is well-supported by scientific studies, that the use of marijuana as a medical therapy can and does have a very serious negative effect on patients with pre-existing immune deficits resulting from AIDS, organ transplantation, or cancer chemotherapy, the very conditions for which marijuana has most often been touted and suggested as a treatment. It has also been shown that marijuana use can accelerate the progression of HIV to full-blown AIDS and increase the occurrence of infections and Kaposi's sarcoma. In addition, patients with weak immune systems will be even less able to defend themselves against the various respiratory cancers and conditions to which consistent marijuana use has been linked, and which are discussed briefly under "Respiratory Illnesses."

In conclusion, it seems that the potential dangers presented by the medical use of marijuana may actually contribute to the dangers of the diseases which it would be used to combat. Therefore, I suggest that marijuana should not be permitted as a therapy, at least until a good deal more conclusive research has been completed concerning its debilitating effect on the immune system.

For more on this topic, please see Donald P. Tashkin, M.D., "Effects of Marijuana on the Lung and Its Immune Defenses," Secretary's Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Intiative: Resource Papers, March 1997, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. Pages 33-51 of this address can be found at the website of the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University, located at http://www.drugs.indiana.edu/druginfo/tashkin- marijuana.html.


The main respiratory consequences of smoking marijuana regularly (one joint a day) are pulmonary infections and respiratory cancer, whose connection to marijuana use has been strongly suggested but not conclusively proven. The effects also include chronic bronchitis, impairment in the function of the smaller air passages, inflammation of the lung, the development of potentially pre

Marijuana smoke and cigarette smoke contain many of the same toxins, including one which has been identified as a key factor in the promotion of lung cancer. This toxin is found in the tar phase of both, and it should be noted that one joint has four times more tar than a cigarette, which means that the lungs are exposed four-fold to this toxin and others in the tar. It has been concretely established that smoking cigarettes promotes lung cancer (which causes more than 125,000 deaths in the US every year), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (chronic bronchitis and emphysema) and increased incidence of respiratory tract infections. This implies, but does not establish, that smoking marijuana may lead to some of the same results as smoking cigarettes. It is notable that several reports indicate an unexpectedly large proportion of marijuana users among cases of lung cancer and cancers of the oral cavity,pharynx, and larynx. Thus, it appears that the use of marijuana as a medicine has the potential to further harm an already ill patient in the same way that taking up regular cigarette smoking would, particularly in light of the fact that those patients for whom marijuana is recommended are already poorly equipped to fight off these infections and diseases.

For more information, please see the Tashkin website mentioned at the end of the section on immune disorders. See also:

www.sarnia.com/GROUPS/ANTIDRUG/mrr/ 21.96.10.html, for information on the link between chemicals contained in marijuana and lung cancer.

http://www.marijuananews.com/latest_research_finds_that_heavy.htm, for an article concerning the link between marijuana and cancer, with commentary

It has been suggested that marijuana is at the root of many mental disorders, including acute toxic psychosis, panic attacks (one of the very conditions it is being used experimentally to treat), flashbacks, delusions, depersonalization, hallucinations, paranoia, depression, and uncontrollable aggressiveness. Marijuana has long been known to trigger attacks of mental illness, such as bipolar (manic-depressive) psychosis and schizophrenia. This connection with mental illness should make health care providers for terminally ill patients and the patients themselves, who may already be suffering from some form of clinical depression, weigh very carefully the pros and cons of adopting a therapeutic course of marijuana.

In the short term, marijuana use impairs perception, judgment, thinking, memory, and learning; memory defects may persist six weeks after last use. Mental disorders connected with marijuana use merit their own category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) IV, published by the American Psychiatric Association. These include Cannabis Intoxication (consisting of impaired motor coordination, anxiety, impaired judgment, sensation of slowed time, social withdrawal, and often includes perceptual disturbances; Cannabis Intoxication Delirium (memory deficit, disorientation); Cannabis Induced Psychotic Disorder, Delusions; Cannabis Induced Psychotic Disorder, Hallucinations; and Cannabis Induced Anxiety Disorder.

In addition, marijuana use has many indirect effects on health. Its effect on coordination, perception, and judgment means that it causes a number of accidents, vehicular and otherwise.

For further information, you may find the following sites helpful:

www.sarnia.com/GROUPS/ANTIDRUG/reality/updatejl.html, for information on links between marijuana use and mental health risks.

www.sarnia.com/GROUPS/ANTIDRUG/mrr/21.96.10.html, for more information on the indirect effects of marijuana on health

http://www.adf.org.au/drughit, the Australian Drug Foundation's website

http://marijuananews.com/a_safe_ high_.htm, a reprint of New Science magazine's "Marijuana Special Report: A Safe High?" with commentary

http://marijuananews.com/claim_four.htm, an article about the similarity of long-term marijuana use's effect on the brain to that of "hard" drugs, with commentary

www.drugs.indiana.edu/publications/iprc/misc/smokescreen.html, for general information on the health risks of marijuana.

http://www.health.org, the homepage of the National Clearinghouse on Alcohol and Drug Information, for general information on marijuana.

So not only is it dangerous to human life and health, it causes more strain financially on our State's financial woes as more health problems from marijuana's use will likely triple our Medi-Cal costs.

So the consensus of the pro-legalization of marijuana lobby, concluding that taxes thereof will help the State is more spin. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) published the following:

A Message from the Drug Enforcement Administration

Summary of the Top Ten Facts on Legalization

Fact 1: We have made significant progress in fighting drug use and drug trafficking in America. Now is not the time to abandon our efforts.

The Legalization Lobby claims that the fight against drugs cannot be won. However, overall drug use is down by more than a third in the last twenty years, while cocaine use has dropped by an astounding 70 percent. Ninety-five percent of Americans do not use drugs. This is success by any standards.

Fact 2: A balanced approach of prevention, enforcement, and treatment is the key in the fight against drugs.

A successful drug policy must apply a balanced approach of prevention, enforcement and treatment. All three aspects are crucial. For those who end up hooked on drugs, there are innovative programs, like Drug Treatment Courts, that offer non-violent users the option of seeking treatment. Drug Treatment Courts provide court supervision, unlike voluntary treatment centers.

Fact 3: Illegal drugs are illegal because they are harmful.

There is a growing misconception that some illegal drugs can be taken safely. For example, savvy drug dealers have learned how to market drugs like Ecstasy to youth. Some in the Legalization Lobby even claim such drugs have medical value, despite the lack of conclusive scientific evidence.

Fact 4: Smoked marijuana is not scientifically approved medicine. Marinol, the legal version of medical marijuana, is approved by science.

According to the Institute of Medicine, there is no future in smoked marijuana as medicine. However, the prescription drug Marinol—a legal and safe version of medical marijuana which isolates the active ingredient of THC—has been studied and approved by the Food & Drug Administration as safe medicine. The difference is that you have to get a prescription for Marinol from a licensed physician. You can’t buy it on a street corner, and you don't smoke it.

Fact 5: Drug control spending is a minor portion of the U.S. budget. Compared to the social costs of drug abuse and addiction, government spending on drug control is minimal.

The Legalization Lobby claims that the United States has wasted billions of dollars in its anti-drug efforts. But for those kids saved from drug addiction, this is hardly wasted dollars. Moreover, our fight against drug abuse and addiction is an ongoing struggle that should be treated like any other social problem. Would we give up on education or poverty simply because we haven't eliminated all problems? Compared to the social costs of drug abuse and addiction—whether in taxpayer dollars or in pain and suffering—government spending on drug control is minimal.

Fact 6: Legalization of drugs will lead to increased use and increased levels of addiction. Legalization has been tried before, and failed miserably.

Legalization has been tried before—and failed miserably. Alaska's experiment with Legalization in the 1970s led to the state's teens using marijuana at more than twice the rate of other youths nationally. This led Alaska's residents to vote to re-criminalize marijuana in 1990.

Fact 7: Crime, violence, and drug use go hand-in-hand.

Crime, violence and drug use go hand in hand. Six times as many homicides are committed by people under the influence of drugs, as by those who are looking for money to buy drugs. Most drug crimes aren't committed by people trying to pay for drugs; they're committed by people on drugs.

Fact 8: Alcohol has caused significant health, social, and crime problems in this country, and legalized drugs would only make the situation worse.

The Legalization Lobby claims drugs are no more dangerous than alcohol. But drunk driving is one of the primary killers of Americans. Do we want our bus drivers, nurses, and airline pilots to be able to take drugs one evening, and operate freely at work the next day? Do we want to add to the destruction by making drugged driving another primary killer?

Fact 9: Europe's more liberal drug policies are not the right model for America.

The Legalization Lobby claims that the “European Model” of the drug problem is successful. However, since legalization of marijuana in Holland, heroin addiction levels have tripled. And Needle Park seems like a poor model for America.

Fact 10: Most non-violent drug users get treatment, not jail time.

The Legalization Lobby claims that America's prisons are filling up with users. Truth is, only about 5 percent of inmates in federal prison are there because of simple possession. Most drug criminals are in jail—even on possession charges—because they have plea-bargained down from major trafficking offenses or more violent drug crimes.

No political process is perfect, however we are at a crossroads in regards to the "General Public" being able through "special interests" media manipulation override our elected officials on issues as complicated as this one is. The average voter will not research and compare the "Science" of pro and con studies. That is why we elected our Representatives to do this important work.

The scenario and specter of full legalization with under the influence driving, getting high on the job, operating heavy equipment, parenting, making critical decisions, etc...is indeed an ugly future outlook. California needs more efficient and expert production, not a workforce in a "Cheech & Chong Comedy of Errors.

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Monique said...

I have so much I would like to talk to you about, it would be a delight if I could bring some light onto such a dark, negative view.

Your article attacks marijuana in so many ways, and puts zero focus on anything positive that does exist from habitual marijuana use. Yes, 215 cards are easy to obtain, and some practitioners take advantage of that...but it is a business, just like pharmaceuticals (also the largest export of the U.S.) Does is make sense why your government/doctor/pharmacist would want you to believe marijuana is not an appropriate medicine? Don't smoke or ingest something homegrown, pay your co-pay to see your doctor, then take a pill, made in a lab..possibly Marinol?

Also take into consideration how alcohol, and cigarettes, completely legal substances do worse damage to their habitual users, than marijuana has ever done...such as DEATH...Nobody has ever died from an overdose, or from ingesting too much marijuana. Simply has NEVER happened. Maybe because marijuana is a completely natural herb, that thrives when grown properly, and is it too crazy to believe that something 'organic' can be medicine?

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is the main active ingredient found in marijuana. THC has been proven to help patients with Alzhimer's disease, cancer (including brain and lung cancer), chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, depression, eating disorders, glaucoma, insomnia, anxiety, asthma, hepatitis, neuralgias, rheumatism, etc. Certainly people could get by, being sick and taking the prescribed medicine..but many also suffer from side effects caused by pharmaceuticals. Marijuana for many people has become an alternative medicine, and most people who try it, chose to medicate with it (not to be confused with becoming addicted to it).

Please, don't let propaganda or a bad experience make you think of marijuana in a negative way. How many times have you heard about the guy that got too high and became violent? How many car accidents have you heard of where marijuana was to blame? It's happened, no doubt about that (from irresponsible users)...but compare that number to the number of accidents known to be caused by alcohol. With anything, someone, somewhere will abuse it. But is it right to restrict everybody because people hold that fear?

And I would like to make it very clear that marijuana is NOT A HALLUCINOGEN OR A PSYCHEDELIC!!! I doubt that you have never experienced it positively, and it's effected your judgement of such a beautiful, natural substance, that deserves to be called nature's medicine.

215 card holders and marijuana smokers in general are not all hoodrats and drug dealers. We have full time jobs, we work hard, go to school, and are thriving, functioning members in your society. I enjoy walking into a dispensary, and sitting next to businessman in a suit, or an old lady with a walker. It's a shame that a lot of Elk Grovians are very judgmental about marijuana use, but I guarantee you there are more of us than you think in your community.

Please continue to read or watch and discover the truth about marijuana:

Marijuana : Physical, Psychological, and Spiritual by Joan Bello

The Union: The Business Behind Getting High
(The best documentary to watch for non marijuana users. It gives great explanation and an overall glimpse into the world of marijuana)

Dr.Grinspoon's website including dozens of essays on his research:

Bruno said...

Mr Masone spouts the opinions of many anti Cannabis people. Perhaps he is an alcoholic. Perhaps he is just ignorant.
But, alas, I am afraid that it is just prejudice. There is no hope for Mr Masone. There is no hope for alcoholics.

Steven Masone said...

Perhaps all the scientific studies I cited are also by alcoholics and ignorant Professionals...talking "out of school" yourself Bruno!

David said...

I used to smoke pot.
I can attest in all honesty it is not good.
To not rehash the article I will say,It should certainly be controlled better than this if you are really getting it for medical reasons they should be real and prescribed in a non smoke form. Unless that would not work.(not an expert on that) Tho I am an expert on smoking pot making you lazy,unable to concentrate, and yes for me it lead to other drugs.Truly medical? could be ,but the way people are going about this it will all be repealed and I think it should be. PROVE medical use and control it better or repeal.....That is simply my 2 cents.

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