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Tuesday, July 22, 2014 | Last updated: 12:30pm

Reasons for AZ attacks on medical marijuana law remain hazy



Much to the dismay of medical marijuana advocates and patients, the state of Arizona is once again working on making the drug illegal. A bill that would repeal the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act has been criticized across the country, as Arizona remains in a state of indecision.

Since 2010, medical marijuana has been legal in Arizona. Legalization has been kicked around on legislative bills since medical marijuana was originally legalized back in 1996 and rescinded the following year.

Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services recently wrote about the victims of the situation, saying that medical patients and dispensary owners are in an uproar about the possibility of the product becoming illegal once again. Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, is all for putting legalization back on the ballot in 2014.

“Are there some people who have legitimate medical conditions and pain?” he said. “There sure are,” he told the Arizona Daily Star, “but to them I would say: no medical authority would say it’s helping you. They all say it’s harming you.”

This is simply an ill-advised comment likely made to ensure he doesn’t get bad publicity. A study performed by Mark Pletcher of the University of California, San Francisco found that smoking up to one marijuana joint per day is not detrimental to lung function. In fact, the study found slight increases in lung capacity with occasional use of the drug.

“A marijuana smoker might have a few joints a month, or a small number of joints or pipe bowls a day,” said Stefan Kertesz, associate professor of preventative medicine at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. “That’s never going to be quite as much smoke as a tobacco smoker with a half-a-pack, pack-a-day or two packs-a-day habit.”

Advocates argue that marijuana is a tool to ease physical pain and anxiety. The drug has also been proven to stimulate the appetite of cancer patients. They also point out that dispensaries provide a safe place to acquire the drug legally.

Kavanagh’s main arguments are that people are abusing the right to obtain medical marijuana in Arizona and that people feign chronic pain simply as a method of obtaining a medical marijuana card.

College students coming into contact with marijuana is as much of an inevitability as the ZonaZoo being loud. Alcohol is another drug students frequently consume, yet it is considered to be OK simply because the government is able to tax it. The reasons for one being legal as opposed to the other are cloudy, as marijuana has exhibited significantly fewer negative aspects than other drugs.

Anything can be used improperly when in the wrong hands or when overindulged in. When marijuana has been proven to benefit people with certain ailments, it is hard to understand why legislators would want to take that away.

—Justin Hussong is a journalism senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on twitter via @hussington.


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