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NY medical marijuana law illuminates need for more forms of the drug, not fewer

SidneyAnne Stone is a freelance writer, Cancer survivor, Marathoner, actor and activist.  

Years of stigmas associated with marijuana have jaded people to its medicinal benefits and given us a false sense of security toward medications that are far more lethal.

Medical marijuana, all controversy aside, is changing people's lives on a daily basis. Many people with little to no quality of life in the past are filled with hope today because they are able to achieve tasks that previously escaped them. Whether it be relief from nausea and increased appetite or freedom from pain, which can feel like nothing short of a miracle when you think there is no end in sight.

Recently, Governor Cuomo passed new legislation to establish a comprehensive medical marijuana program for New York State. I mention this not only as a New Yorker but also because of the unique twist lawmakers put on the language before signing it into law.

While the legislation has been met with mixed reviews, I am a fan of its design. Many of my readers know I am a breast cancer survivor and an advocate for the rights of all cancer patients. Having said that, what I love about this new plan is that it enables patients to get the medicinal benefits of marijuana without having to smoke. As we all know, smoking puts us at additional risk for both cancer and heart disease, so it seems counter intuitive to approve something for medicinal purposes that we know is a detriment to our health and well being. The law allows for patients to get the relief they need through edible and inhaled forms of marijuana. This is in the spirit in which the law was intended. The goal being to provide medical benefits and not put anyone at additional health risk.

In July of this year, the Washington Post reported on the adverse effects of a variety of drugs, including marijuana and alcohol, using the government's own statistics to show that marijuana is actually the least detrimental by far.

On Aug. 26, 2014, CNN reported on a study released by JAMA Internal Medicine, which noted a significant decline in deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses in states with legalized medicinal marijuana from 1999 to 2010. Read the study yourself.

Regardless of personal bias, the evidence is becoming irrefutable and the statistics speak for themselves. The issue of legalizing marijuana is not the discussion here. When speaking about the use of medicinal marijuana for those who are legitimately suffering, I see this as a viable and safer alternative for many individuals.

Photo credit: JeremyNathan/Getty Images
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