Letter: Medical marijuana lobby does not tell the whole story
Dec 13, 2012 | 1395 views |  2 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I read the St. Clair Times every week and in last week’s edition, I was shocked to find a paid advertisement from the Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition attacking Rep. Jim McClendon. 
Dr. McClendon is currently our State Representative and is Chairman of the House Health Committee. Dr. McClendon is also a veteran, a retired optometrist and a respected resident of St. Clair County. More importantly, Dr. McClendon is a man of principle: he says what he means, regardless of popularity. 
The advertisement suggested that Dr. McClendon, an opponent of medical marijuana, should vote for the bill because “70 percent of Alabamians” support it. In spite of popularity, a discussion is needed on the benefits of legal cannabis. Medical marijuana is not universally supported as a medicine; it serves as a gateway to abuse and most importantly, facilitates increased criminal activity. 
Supporters point to the American Medical Association’s recent support of legalizing medical marijuana and its use as a treatment. However, numerous scientific articles and reports indicate marijuana is not safe. Some studies indicate habitual use can decrease the immune system, cause respiratory illness and have long-term impairments on mental health and cognitive abilities. 
Studies have also indicated a large number of prescriptions given for symptoms that can be “easily faked” and to patients who are recreational users. This data suggest medical marijuana will create another gateway through which recreational users can secure a supply.
Finally, legalizing marijuana leads to an overall increase in drug trafficking and racketeering activity. Regardless of what Alabama does, marijuana will remain a controlled substance at the federal level. Because of this, states that do have medical marijuana dispensaries often see increased crime and corruption associated with dispensaries.  Proponents of legalization will point to studies that indicate there is no correlation; but for every study that doesn’t indicate a correlation, a separate study indicates that crime rates increase and violence surges.  
Legalizing medical marijuana may be popular, but that doesn’t mean it’s best for Alabama. I know when I voted for Jim McClendon, I did so because I knew he would stand on his principles, regardless of popularity or political gain. I support his position, and so should you. 
Brad Watts, Springville

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