Is Weed A Medicine? Voters Say Yes But Doctors Are Skeptical
As voters legalize weed across the country, doctors groups still voice serious doubts about its medical value.
Voters in three states approved new medical marijuana initiatives on election day, and the majority of Americans now live in states where pot has been legalized in some form. But despite the growing public acceptance of medical marijuana laws, one group remains notably skeptical: doctors.
In all three states where medical marijuana initiatives were passed — North Dakota, Florida, and Arkansas — the state medical associations opposed the proposals. “There is nothing medical about this proposal,” Florida Medical Association CEO Tim Stapleton said in a statement, citing “the lack of scientific evidence that pot is helpful in treating medical conditions.”
In opposing the medical marijuana initiatives, doctors’ groups generally avoid broader debates about the benefits of drug legalization, instead focusing on a more specific dispute: that pot should be considered a form of medicine, rather than a recreational drug. There needs to be more research, they argue.
“If the country wants recreational marijuana, and wants to treat marijuana like alcohol and cigarettes, and say above some age, people can make an informed decision and we can deal with the side effects and what will naturally come because we want people to have this freedom, that’s a rational argument,” Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Gregory Bledsoe — son of conservative Arkansas State Senator Cecile Bledsoe — told BuzzFeed News.
“What concerns a lot of us in the medical community is that in the zeal to legalize or decriminalize marijuana, a lot of marketing dollars have been spent to convince the public that it’s safe and natural and has no side effects, and we have to hand out the plant to gain medicinal value from the compounds — and it’s just not true,” said Bledsoe, who is a vocal opponent of marijuana legalization.
Photo credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images