Marijuana – medical or not!

I have been watching with great interest the ongoing debate of the legalization of marijuana here in Oregon. Regardless of whether this becomes law or not, I doubt very much that there will be any lessening of marijuana use, especially by teens, and in fact I suspect the opposite. At present any teenager who wants marijuana can find it quickly and easily. The myth that those with a medical marijuana license only use it for themselves is totally without foundation as it is without any checks whatsoever. The argument that there are medical reasons for making marijuana legal, do not impress me at all. I cannot state that it has no medical use as I am not a physician. Currently in this state, those with a medical marijuana license are allowed to grow their own drug, and are allowed 6 mature plants. Why I find this strange is that normally, patients are not expected or encouraged to make their own antibiotics or birth control pills. Why should marijuana for medical reasons be any different? If marijuana is to be used for any medical purpose it should be treated as any other drug and prescribed accordingly and the patient monitored by a physician.
After working with families of drug addicts since 2003 I have also come to this conclusion on marijuana. Contrary to what many people say, I believe that marijuana is a gateway drug. Use of marijuana encourages reliance on using a mind altering substance to help deal with the problems of life. Sadly, teens are encouraged to look for a fast fix, be it a legal or illegal drug, to take care of their problems. As their use increases, their ability to get a high from the drug diminishes. Now, the patterns and habit are set, so the search for another better drug begins. To add to this, the places where marijuana can be obtained is often the very best place to make purchases of other drugs. This is due to those who use marijuana as a recreational drug, also often use other drugs and are willing to share the names of local dealers. I believe this will still hold true regardless of whether the purchase is made from an illegal backyard grow, or the store front on Main Street.
Over the years I have had many families of users, and drug users themselves, tell me that their first experience of drugs was with marijuana, and my personal experience with a drug user in my life bears this out. In 1997 I had a business partner who had been a previous drug user, first of marijuana and later marijuana and methamphetamine. When we became partners she was clean and supportive of drug education to stop others from taking the path she chose. Sadly, by 2003, she was once again heavily involved in drugs and also theft. At that time she also shared my house while I was working away. I discovered that she was not only using heavily but was allowing drug deals on the front porch. She gradually spiraled downwards into uncontrolled meth use. My house was trashed and she finally went to jail after attacking me while tweaking.
I found there was little help or support for friends or the family of drug users and at that time I had no idea about the danger from fires, theft, infection, animal abuse, lying, blackmail, drug dealing and assault. This prompted the development of my website, where I provide information for those whose lives are affected by drug use. I also offer coaching for families and provide a service to help identify drug paraphernalia. Had I known what I was looking at, I would have understood the odor of marijuana and the look of a pipe much sooner than I did.
My book, The Dangers of Living with a Drug Addict is available from Amazon or can be found via the website above. My next book, a true fiction account of the chaos caused by meth should be out this fall.