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Sunday, September 30, 2012

No sane person can deny medical efficacy

The October 1 Letter to Legislators was a hit with some people. We received another $300 within hours after we published it a few days ago. We're now more than 2/3 of the way to our goal of $1600 to complete the Letters to Legislators campaign.

Briefly, the campaign hopes to send as many as 17 letters (one a week) to each legislator-to-be before the 2013 Legislative Session starts in Pierre in January. Currently that number is 203. After Nov. 6, it will be 105.

The more we think about the number of arrests for possession of a green, leafy, seed-bearing plant, the 82,402 arrests for "marijuana" possession since 1998, the more unsettled we feel. That's a huge number of people to roust for no reason.

We are now considering what to say in Letter to Legislators #5, to be sent Oct. 8. We're thinking we might just provide a few websites that talk about cannabis's medical benefits. A good starting place is Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the pre-eminent website for advocacy of the rights of people to use what works to alleviate their medical conditions.

Health and Human Services claims that “marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” However, more than 6,500 reports and journal articles from around the world support the medical value of cannabis (marijuana).

HHS is right. That's what the law says. It's like when a football referee says, "Incomplete pass," when everyone else who saw the play knows the receiver caught and held the ball. Regardless of actuality, if the referee says the receiver dropped the ball, the receiver dropped the ball.

In 1970, Congress said, via the Controlled Substance Act, that cannabis has "no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States." Until Congress opens its eyes, or until a federal court overrules that phrase, cannabis, as a legal actuality, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. The player dropped the ball. Never mind that he didn't drop the ball; the referee said he did, so he did.

ASA's site prints excerpts from a startling study; Cannabis Smoking Does Not Cause Cancer. The opposite, in fact, seems to be indicated.
The study included 1,209 residents of Los Angeles aged 18-59 with cancer (611 lung, 403 oral/pharyngeal, 90 laryngeal, and 108 esophageal). Interviewers collected lifetime histories of cannabis, tobacco, alcohol and other drug use, and data on other factors that may influence cancer risk, including diet, occupational exposures, and family history of cancer. Exposure to cannabis was measured in joint years (1 joint year = 365 joints). The cancer patients were compared to 1,040 cancer-free controls. Among the controls 46 per cent had never used cannabis, 31 per cent had used it for less than one joint year, 12 per cent for 10-30 joint years, 2 per cent for 30-60 joint years, and 3 per cent for more than 60 joint years.
Compared with subjects who had used less than one joint year, the risk for lung cancer was 0.78 for 1-10 joint years, 0.74 for 10-30 joint years, 0.85 for 30-60 joint years, and 0.81 for more than 60 joint years. A risk below 1.0 means that the risk for cannabis users was slightly lower than for non-users. Similar results were obtained for the other cancer sites. There was no dose-response relationship of cancer risk, which means that there was no increased risks for more intensive users.
The risk for cannabis users was slightly lower than for non-users. That is HUGE. It indicates that smoking cannabis may deter lung cancer. In fact, a number of studies, going back to the early 1970s, indicate that cannabinoids from cannabis DO shrink tumors. The ASA website quotes studies that show medical benefit to a wide range of patients with a wide range of medical conditions.

With this knowledge, what kind of person would continue to jail someone with MS, AIDS, cancer, Crohn's disease, or any other condition that a patient and his/her physician agree is palliated by cannabis use? The fact is that only a few judges in So. Dak. will even allow a patient and his physician to testify in court about the medical value of cannabis.

In the Oct. 1 Letter to Legislators, SoDakNORML proposes the repeal of laws making possession of cannabis illegal in So. Dak. Unrealistic? Maybe. But it would not be unrealistic to allow "a medical necessity" to be used as a defense in a trial over possession of "marijuana." In fact, it is downright cruel and inhuman not to allow it. Even the NFL allows referees to watch a replay of action on the field, and to change an initial call when the referees see that they were wrong in their first reaction.

When lawmakers refuse to look at the facts and continue to imprison people for attempting to save their own lives, we are left grasping for words to describe their sadistic barbarity. We are forced, however, by the conventions of polite society, to try to use "reasonable" arguments and language when drafting the actual Letters to Legislators.

SoDakNORML still needs about $450.00 (money or postage stamps) to continue our Letters to Legislators campaign. We suggest that you buy a sheet of 20 first-class stamps and an envelope (Walgreens, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Walmart, Post Office). Put one stamp on the envelope. Send the remaining 19 stamps in the envelope to SoDakNORML, 24594 Chokecherry Ridge Rd, Hermosa SD 57744. If 40 of you do that, we'll be just about there.

Send cash (wrapped in a sheet of paper) if you want to. Send a check if you like. Go to and use either your PayPal account or a credit card to send us money (specify it is a gift, so PayPal won't keep any of it in fees).

Go to our Facebook page and LIKE us. SHARE us with your friends. This REALLY helps broaden our coverage and it costs nothing.

Our next eblast will contain a draft Letter to Legislators, proposed for Oct. 8.

Best regards,
Bob Newland

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