You know, to listen to the Religious Right in this country, you would think that the gospels are talking about some other guy than the man that fed the poor, hung out with society’s outcasts, slammed the rich for their greed on a regular basis, and taught that someone who practiced a different religion (the story of the Good Samaritan) could be as good, if not a better person, than the people who practiced “the right religion.” This apparently now extends to the whole healing the sick and ministering to the afflicted stuff as well. I say this, because a group of religious right organizations has come out with a ridiculously false attack on the medical marijuana initiative that will, hopefully, be on the ballot in November.
Four Arkansas grass roots organizations have joined together in a Ballot Question Committee, the Coalition to Preserve Arkansas Values (“CPAV”), to oppose two proposed constitutional amendments to grant to out-of-state companies unregulated monopolies on casino gambling and to oppose a proposed initiated act to legalize so-called medical-marijuana. Those groups are the Arkansas Family Coalition, Families First Action Committee, Family Council Action Committee, and the Arkansas Committee for Ethics Policy, a companion organization to the Arkansas Faith and Ethics Council.
Arkansans will be equally unwilling to take the first step toward the full legalization of marijuana for recreational use, which is a major impetus for “medical-marijuana” laws, according to some of the national leaders of the movement. CPAV contends that “if there are components of marijuana (THC, for example) that render medical benefits for patients suffering from certain maladies, there are more efficacious, safer, and saner ways to deliver the THC rather than the smoking of marijuana cigarettes. Components of opium have proved to have medical benefit, but the FDA has not approved the smoking of opium or heroin. Instead, medical science extracted the beneficial components and developed medicines such as morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone. The same has been done and is continuing to be done with marijuana.”
Members of CPAV point out a number of other things. Smoking marijuana cigarettes, especially long-term use as is common to treat things such as chronic pain, poses serious respiratory and other health risks. Marijuana contains carcinogens and tar similar to tobacco cigarettes. Marijuana can be addictive and serve as a gateway drug. One need only look to states like California and Colorado to see how easily medical-marijuana laws lead to the virtual legalization of marijuana for recreational use and totally frustrate law enforcement relative to marijuana laws.
Okay, let’s take this apart piece by piece.
The problem here is that correlation isn’t cause. Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang members are probably more 104 times more likely to have ridden a bicycle as a kid than those who don’t become Hell’s Angels, but that doesn’t mean that riding a two-wheeler is a “gateway” to joining a motorcycle gang. It simply means that most people ride bikes and the kind of people who don’t are highly unlikely to ever ride a motorcycle.
It’s an idea that’s been totally abandoned by scientists, as the above link from a Time health article demonstrates, while actually citing their sources. Gee, imagine that. Two whole generations have now grown up being told this scary gateway crap, and it hasn’t done one thing to curtail marijuana usage or drug addiction in this country. There is no less effective way of getting kids to not use drugs than lying to them, because once they found out you lied they’re not going to listen to you anymore. You’d think the folks who are rightly concerned about keeping kids from doing drugs would have learned that by now and tried actually being honest and not trying to scare them. Then again, perhaps I’m thinking too reasonably.
Next, the group falsely claims that marijuana’s health effects are being misrepresented and compares them to that of cigarettes. This is interesting because a 20 year study was released back in January of this year that found that marijuana does not have the same kind of health impacts as tobacco. So again, total misrepresentation on this coalitions part…Say, isn’t there something the Bible about how it’s wrong to lie or something like that? Or do these folks think that’s a commandment you can ignore?
Now as far as the total legalization of marijuana goes, no, this law doesn’t do that. Like everything else these groups contend, they don’t have a shred of evidence to support that statement. What this effort is about is making sure that people who are sick and are in pain can get something that gives them a little peace and lessens their suffering. It’s a moral statement that it isn’t right for the state to handcuff and charge people who are sick with cancer or other horrible illnesses as criminals. It won’t change federal policy, but it will send the signal that in Arkansas we have compassion for the sick. What Would Jesus Do? Probably use his healing powers to make the illness go away. But for those of us who can’t work miracles, this kind of compassion will have to suffice, and legalizing medical marijuana is the compassionate thing to do. These organizations know this, and so to accomplish their ideological goals they have to lie to provide a justification. Gee, for so called Christian organizations, that all seems rather un-Christian doesn’t it?