State commissioners make a flawed argument against a treatment that can alleviate suffering.
Commissioners make a flawed case against it
In a March 12 commentary, the commissioners of the Minnesota departments of Health, Human Services and Public Safety (Ed Ehlinger, Lucinda Jesson and Mona Dohman, respectively) cite the need for more research on medical marijuana, but they curiously leave out the reason such research is impossible: Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I narcotic. This puts it on the same list as heroin and ties the hands of researchers who do want to quantify and validate the overwhelming anecdotal evidence the authors deem unworthy of consideration.
If the authors truly want more research, they should lobby to have marijuana re-listed as Schedule II rather than asking for something that can’t happen under the current paradigm. I understand why regulators want to move with caution, but to leave out this crucial information is breathtakingly dishonest.
Allyson Childress, Minneapolis
• • •
The three commissioners begin their commentary with the pronouncement that they “know how difficult it can be to watch a loved one struggle with major illness or chronic pain.” I do not know their experiences, but obviously, they don’t know mine. They write that they “appreciate the commitment with which families search for effective treatments.” Obviously, they don’t.
People in crisis suffering from disabling illness and pain know better. As patients, we search for anything that works, regardless of these three bureaucrats’ protestations about “efficacy, effective safeguards, side effects and other factors.”
Most patients and their caregivers know about black-box-labeled medications for illnesses such as multiple sclerosis. How many MS patients like me have used Copaxone, Betaseron or Tysabri, to name just a few? The answer is: almost all. So why would patients eagerly submit to drugs that cost tens of thousands of dollars a year and carry these warnings? Because they don’t care about efficacy, safeguards, side effects and other factors. These are last-ditch efforts — no guarantees, only risks and hopes.
So to Ed, Lucinda and Mona: When you decide to use your influence as leaders to protect and improve the quality of life of people with disabling illness and pain by encouraging the use of medical marijuana for a set of prescribed illnesses, I will retract my stated opinion. Until then, obviously, you don’t know.
John Stehly, Minneapolis
• • •
To paraphrase a passage from the commissioners’ commentary, let’s have a little word game and see where it goes.
While the benefits of alcohol are poorly documented, there’s no shortage of evidence regarding its negative effects on individuals and communities. For example:
• Alcohol can disrupt learning and impair memory;
• Alcohol can exacerbate mental illness;
• Alcohol use during pregnancy can harm a baby’s brain development;
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.