The state needs to fund medical marijuana research

By Renee Perez, Columnist
On June 14, 2017

Last week Gov. Rick Scott — back to his old, merciless self — vetoed the legislature’s effort to grant $1.1 million to the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center.

The funds would have been allocated for the purpose of researching medicinal marijuana. It’s a developing form of treatment that could greatly reduce the suffering of millions of people. 

Conversations about marijuana, medicinal or otherwise, tend to drift back and forth between extremes. One camp proclaims the herb is a cure-all for everything from headaches to global warfare, and the other camp insists the widespread use of marijuana is a symptom of our society’s decaying moral fiber. 

Despite cannabis being a divisive and mystified topic in the Western world, credible scientific literature suggests that cannabinoids, the chemical compounds found in marijuana, could have unprecedented applications in medicine.

This sentiment is shared by the nation’s leading medical institutions. 

According to a scientific review published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), marijuana shows significant therapeutic promise across a vast array of conditions, many of which lack cures or adequate treatment.

These conditions range from psychological disorders to “Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, to cancer, ... stroke, hypertension, glaucoma, obesity/metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis, to name just a few,” according to the NIH. 

The American Cancer Society (ACS) also confirms the life-improving outcomes of cannabis therapy. The institution attests the efficacy of marijuana in treating vomiting from chemotherapy, diminishing pain from damaged nerves and “[slowing] growth and/or [causing] death in certain types of cancer cells,” according to the ACS, among other palliative effects. 

NIH, ACS and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services all recognize the potential of medicinal marijuana treatment. They’re in unanimous agreement about the urgent need to study the drug more intensively to make it more accessible to patients.

Clearly, the Moffitt Cancer Center — and the 15 million Americans living with cancer — would gain quite a bit from the $1.1 million Scott so generously denied them.

Not to mention, now that medical marijuana is legal in the state of Florida, it’s in the best interest of Scott’s constituents to expand the scientific literature on the drug. 

Research would grant doctors and patients a clear understanding of what the controversial herb can and cannot do. 

In the end, it should surprise no one Scott has once again exhibited a lack of regard for the health of Floridians by restricting much-needed scientific cannabis research. 

After all, this is a man whose career is riddled with scandals in the health care industry — remember that time he oversaw one of the largest Medicare frauds in United States history? 

Perhaps next year Florida will actually elect a governor with some compassion for the sick. 

 

Renee Perez is a junior majoring in political science.

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