By Brendan Valentine, David Brown and Kevin Caldwell
According to Dr. Ken Roy, the passage of Louisiana’s Senate Bill 143 is “a sad day for science, a sad day for medicine and a sad day for the State of Louisiana.” Dr. Roy is concerned that it isn’t currently feasible to expect physicians to prescribe a Schedule I substance, due to FDA regulations. He also strongly implies that there are no legitimate therapeutic uses for marijuana in a natural form.
Although Dr. Roy correctly notes that marijuana does not fit flawlessly into the current regime of prescribable drugs, this is in large part because the federal government for years has blocked the type of research he would like done. However, Dr. Roy fails to note that marijuana has been used medicinally for thousands of years and there is ample evidence it can alleviate serious suffering, including wasting, chronic muscle spasticity, seizure disorders, neurodegenerative diseases and nausea related to chemotherapy, etc… Dr. Roy also claims that enactment of this law will increase teens’ marijuana use, however, data from other medical marijuana states shows the opposite — typically a correlation between a passage of medical marijuana laws and a decrease in teen use.
Allowing seriously ill Louisianans to legally access a treatment with a long, safe, and effective history of therapeutic use represents a good day for science and a good day for medicine. Most importantly, it represents a good day for everyone else in Louisiana.
Brendan Valentine is a legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C. David Brown is president and staff attorney for the Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana (SMPL) in Baton Rouge. Kevin Caldwell is executive director of Common Sense NOLA in New Orleans.