The doc is in: Mary Jane’s the name

Minnesota’s Legislature should take note of marijuana’s medical benefits and legalize it.

Vanessa Ramstack

We all know marijuana by its common street names: weed, pot, Mary Jane. Soon it may have a fancy prescription name and be sold over the counter.
In May 2010, marijuanaâÄôs potential to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder was considered in the Department of Veteran Affairs.
A 2007 Harvard University study revealed that a compound in marijuana, THC, is able to reduce lung cancerâÄôs ability to spread. After inserting human lung cancer cells into mice, Harvard researchers injected the mice with THC for three weeks. The tumors reduced in size and weight by 50 percent.
Anju Preet, Ph.D., a researcher in the Division of Experimental Medicine at Harvard, said about the study, âÄúThe beauty of this study is that we are showing that a substance of abuse, if used prudently, may offer a new road to therapy against lung cancer.âÄù
In a more recent study at Complutense University of Madrid, THC appears to lead to autophagy, or self-eating. The cancer cells destroy themselves from the inside out in a process called apoptosis.
Tumor inhibition is not the only medicinal benefit of marijuana. According to the Medical Marijuana Briefing Paper of 2010 put out by the Marijuana Policy Project, marijuana is one of the safest remedial substances known.
Marijuana aids in relief from muscle spasms seen in multiple sclerosis patients and chronic pain caused by nerve injury. Relief from other ailments such as Hepatitis C, glaucoma and epilepsy can be added to the list.
Though marijuana offers many medical benefits, the use of medicinal marijuana is currently only legal in 15 states; Minnesota is not of these.
In Minnesota, possession of 1.5 ounces of marijuana will result in a fine of up to $200 while possession of more than 1.5 ounces will result in fines and prison time dependent on the exact quantity.
In May 2009, a bipartisan bill to legalize medicinal marijuana was vetoed by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty. His reasoning for rejecting the bill was the belief that legalizing marijuana would increase drug abuse problems and the rate of crime and that marijuana poses âÄúserious public safety and health risks.âÄù And though he said he was âÄúsympathetic to those dealing with end-of-life illnesses,âÄù he felt legalizing medicinal marijuana would only âÄúcompound [the public safety] problems.âÄù
The November 2010 elections left the fate of medicinal marijuana even more uncertain. The Republican-controlled Legislature may or may not be sympathetic to revisiting the topic.
In an August 2010 debate, Gov. Mark Dayton said he âÄúwould only support medical marijuana legislation if law enforcement were comfortable with the bill.âÄù
Though Dayton is not sold on the idea, according to a poll by KSTP-TV in 2008, 64 percent of Minnesotans believe medical marijuana should be legal.
Marijuana aids in the relief of numerous ailments, and patients suffering from a treatable side effect should not be denied access to the drug because unyielding legislators believe it will increase the crime rate or be a detriment to society.
Marijuana is a safe remedial substance; there have been no deaths from overdose.
A substance known as a source of abuse could easily become known as a source of medical treatment.
Minnesota should join the growing number of states that permit medicinal marijuana. Give marijuana a chance to show what it can do âÄî besides give you a good time.