Marijuana legalization may not be a top priority for Congress or President Obama, but the American public is doing what it can to make it apparent that marijuana is an important issue. The marijuana industry has gathered support from many high ranking officials over the last two years which has increased overall support for marijuana reform.
Marijuana support driving change
For the first time ever, the Gallup poll and the General Social Survey found that a majority of the public favors the legalization of marijuana. Quinnipiac University recently conducted a poll which showed that the public strongly supports legal marijuana, and even more so medical marijuana. Here are some of the highlights of their findings.
- The poll reported that 55% of Florida voters, 52% of Ohio voters, and 51% of Pennsylvania voters favor recreational marijuana.
- The poll reported that 84% of voters in Florida and Ohio, and 88% of voters in Pennsylvania support medical marijuana.
Increased support from high ranking individuals and organizations
Years ago, a National Institute of Health panel determined that smoking marijuana could help treat a number of chronic conditions including pain and nausea. The panel also said that marijuana could help people who failed to respond to other remedies.
Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s medical guru and a renowned neurosurgeon, once spoke out against the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. Two years ago he wrote an article called, “Why I changed my mind on weed,” in which he apologized for his negative stance toward marijuana.
Dr. Gupta said that further research convinced him that he was simply wrong. He discussed the beneficial effects marijuana had on cancer patients and cited another study in which 76% of the physicians surveyed said they would prescribe marijuana to patients who suffer from breast cancer.
National Institute on Drug Abuse says marijuana can kill certain cancer cells
In their April 2015 publication, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported that marijuana can kill certain cancer cells. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a government funded research institution and the April 2015 publication was revised to say the following:
“Recent animal studies have shown that marijuana can kill certain cancer cells and reduce the size of others. Evidence from one animal study suggests that extracts from whole-plant marijuana can shrink one of the most serious types of brain tumors. Research in mice showed that these extracts, when used with radiation, increased the cancer-killing effects of the radiation.”
United States Surgeon General thinks marijuana can be helpful
This past February, 37-year-old U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy appeared on “CBS This Morning” and said, “We have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, marijuana can be helpful.” The Surgeon General then added, “I think that we have to use that data to drive policymaking.”
Dr. Murthy is not the first Surgeon General to debate marijuana’s classification and the overall United States drug policy. In 1993, Joycelyn Elders, the Surgeon General under President Clinton, said the U.S. should seriously consider legalizing drugs. “I do feel we’d markedly reduce our crime rate if drugs were legalized,” she said at the time. Dr. Murthy’s statements, however, have come at a time when medical marijuana has been recognized for its value and the trend is toward legalization in most states.
The opinions expressed by the Surgeon General, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institute of Health should be enough to remove cannabis from its current classification as a Schedule I substance. Progress toward this goal is hampered by political realities, such that cannabis is still classified as a Schedule I substance. It is time for change and it is time for the authorities to recognize its medical benefits and lift some of the restrictions that are not supported by scientific research.