High Time for Medical Pot

The science-based reasons for legalizing medical marijuana are too numerous to list here, but that doesn’t matter — state lawmakers are impervious to facts.

So, how about this argument: “It worked for me,” and “I can get it anyway.”

Those arguments were made by a Republican supporter of House Bill 136, which calls for legalizing pot as medicine.

State Sen. Dan Seum admitted that he had smoked a joint to help with his nausea following cancer treatment years ago instead of taking opioid painkillers.

Guess what? No nausea.

He said one of his adult grandchildren uses pot to treat her epilepsy.

“And remember Kentucky grows the best,” Seum told reporters.

So there it is: It worked for Seum, and it was so readily available that a sitting Kentucky senator was comfortable enough to acquire it from the black market. Seum also thought that his nausea was so bad that he was willing to risk breaking the law to find a solution.

It should be noted that Seum, who is 78 and has represented The South End and Bullitt County in the state Senate for 24 years, is a profoundly conservative Republican. Last year, the American Conservative Union gave Seum a State Legislature Lifetime Score of 90 percent.

What did it take to change this conservative’s mind? Well, why should the debate over marijuana be different than any other political debate? In the era of Donald Trump and Matt Bevin, facts and science are worthless. Instead, the convincing argument might be: Seeing is believing.

So, now it’s time for the rest of Kentucky lawmakers to see that legalizing marijuana would make it mercifully easier and safer for all people suffering from nausea to find relief.

And advocates point to several other conditions for which marijuana could help, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Legalizing medical marijuana could also be the best weapon against the opioid problem in Kentucky and elsewhere. Former State Auditor Adam Edelen, who is running for governor, tweeted in support of legalizing medical marijuana, noting, “You can’t meaningfully fight opioids without it.”

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Edelen is right on.

In 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine confirmed “the efficacy of cannabis for chronic pain in adults,” and people with chronic pain cut their opioid use by 40 to 60 percent when given access to cannabis, according to a 2018 report published by the National Institutes of Health.

But again, that is just science. Who believes in such wizardry?

Instead, the debate can now be about what worked for one Republican state senator. HB 136 would make sure that others can benefit from what Seum has found.

Kentucky’s black market will only grow as surrounding states legalize medicinal (and recreational) marijuana. This is good news for Seum and his weed dealer, but not for your ailing family member who doesn’t have the hook-up.

The best part of HB 136 is that it proposes to leave the prescribing of marijuana up to practitioners and their patients — including physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists and others licensed to administer controlled substances. In other words, leave the rules for medication to the experts, not the politicians. (This is an important stance Republicans are taking: Protect the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship. Too bad they don’t believe women should have that same protection with their physicians.)

Legalizing medical marijuana should be the easiest bill to pass this year.

It seeks to improve and save lives.

It would bring the black market into daylight, raising much-needed revenue for Kentucky.

The state would save untold amounts of money being lost to opioid abuse and criminalizing people.

Comprehensive studies and scientific research could then be done to discover new benefits and risks.

And finally, Kentucky can for once stop pretending the future will not overtake it. We must stop denying that medical marijuana will be available nationwide in the near future.

Just wait and see.

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