Lane Siekman on Medical Marijuana

December 23, 2017

Rising Sun, Indiana -

Cannabis has been used as medicine for most of recorded history. It was a legal remedy in the United States as recently as the mid-20th century. In 1970, however, as Nixon’s war on drugs began, the U.S. government classified marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, the designation intended for drugs — like heroin — with a high potential for addiction and no medical value.

Since 1996, 29 states and the District of Columbia have authorized the medical use of marijuana within their borders, including our neighboring states of Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois. While the federal government still considers marijuana to be illegal nationwide, Congress voted in May deny funding to the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute medical marijuana cases in states where its use has been permitted. However, Attorney General Jeff Sessions who opposes the use of cannabis is encouraging law enforcement to take a harsher stand on its possession and use even for humanitarian medical purposes.

The arguments against marijuana are being debunked by studies in States where it has been legalized. For example, the rate of adolescent marijuana use in Colorado has fallen to its lowest level in nearly a decade, according to new federal survey data.

State-level numbers from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that a little more than 9 percent of Colorado teens age 12 to 17 used marijuana monthly in 2015 and 2016, a statistically significant drop from the prior period. That's the lowest rate of monthly marijuana use in the state since 2007 and 2008.

And it's not just marijuana: Rates of teen alcohol, tobacco and heroin use are down sharply in the state after the people of Colorado voted to remove marijuana’s criminal penalties.

The law needs to recognize the fact that there are responsible users who are using cannabis in ways that don't harm society or themselves. For example, several States already permit non-euphoric cannabis for certain patients, such as children with epilepsy. I believe that cannabis should at least be an option for a doctor to recommend in these cases. I support the ongoing efforts in the Indiana General Assembly to make CBD oil available to those who need it to alleviate pain and other debilitating mental and physical conditions, and I oppose Attorney General Hill’s’s recent decision to confiscate CBD oils from stores selling the products. This strikes me as the tactics of a totalitarian government.

I support the bipartisan Charlotte’s Web Medical Access Act of 2017 (HR. 2273) to legalize the therapeutic use of cannabidiol (CBD) to end federal prohibition over all CBD products and the Therapeutic Hemp Medical Act of 2017 (S. 1008) which would amend the CSA to allow all hemp plants with THC content levels of below 0.3%.

I will vote for these two bills if given the opportunity in Congress. If passed, individuals and businesses would be free to grow hemp and/or manufacture CBD products without any fear of federal prosecution. These products can then be regulated by federal and/or state agencies much like tobacco and alcohol.

There is a need for increased freedom for patients and doctors to choose the treatment options right for them. In 2016, the National American Legion announced its support of medical cannabis for veterans as a treatment option, and earlier this year, the Indiana Legion joined them in that support. Medical marijuana provides treatment alternatives to pharmaceuticals that are not currently available to our veterans and other citizens, and an overwhelming majority of Hoosiers support its legalization.

In Congress, I will support measures to reclassify Marijuana as a Schedule 3 Controlled Substance and to allow States, without interference by the federal government, to make their own decisions about marijuana, but I also believe that it is time to legalize medical marijuana nationwide and to stop prosecuting and incarcerating citizens for using a substance that has never resulted in a single overdose death.

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