Medical Marijuana Debate Heats Up - Journey Healing Centers Opposition

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As the medical marijuana debate heats up daily across the US, Journey Healing Centers (http://journeyrecoverycenters.com) raises more concerns over increased addiction, crime and economics of legalizing marijuana. Based on 30 years of experience working with clients fighting drug and alcohol addictions, Journey Healing Centers' licensed doctors and therapists oppose the Medical Marijuana Propositions on the Arizona and South Dakota ballots, along with California's proposed legalization for 21 that will be decided by voters this November.

While Journey Healing Centers supports the limited use of medical marijuana for critically ill or terminal patients, the legalization risks outweigh the benefits. "Requests for medical marijuana have increased 50-300% since Obama took office and announced that he won't use federal marijuana laws to override state laws"(MSNBC http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30217044/), which leaves a lot of room for abuse. Dr Ravi Chandiramani, Journey Healing Centers Medical Director, explains, "We are concerned about the abuse and addiction potential of cannabis, which has been proven. In California, prescriptions have been provided for a wide variety of reasons, some legitimate and many not so legitimate."

Without any federal oversight for medical marijuana, there are no FDA approvals or standard regulations. The proposed Arizona regulations will allow patients with a prescription to grow their own marijuana at home if they live more than 25 miles from 120 dispensaries, and each of the 14 states with medical marijuana approved have different regulations. Aubrey Barrow, Journey Healing Centers Admissions Director, adds, "It will be impossible to control the distribution and cultivation, not to mention the illegal transporting increase into the US. We don't need additional drug challenges with our loved ones, and the possibility of the US importing marijuana from Mexico that's grown in farms that are run by drug cartels."

And where are the medical doctors behind this medical marijuana movement? The reality is that only 2% of patients really need medical marijuana, and the remaining prescriptions are primarily abuse or recreational use. Some clinics in Venice Beach, CA, even have a doctor inside the dispensary who can write customers a prescription for almost anything (PBS Need to Know). It's not "only marijuana" either. According to a National Instituted of Drug Abuse (NIDA) Research Report, "The use of marijuana can produce adverse physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral changes, and - contrary to popular belief - it can be addictive." Marijuana is also considered a "gateway drug" that often leads to addictions to harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin. The potency of the marijuana now available has increased more than 275 percent over the last decade (SAMHSA), making it much more harmful than what baby boomers smoked in college.

The tax revenues versus costs of legalizing marijuana are also debatable. According to the LA Times, the City Counsel of Long Beach is considering a proposal to levy a 5% tax on medical marijuana. Another tax of up to 10% would go into effect if California passes Prop 19, which would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana for recreational use for 21+. The question is whether these tax revenues will really help the states dig out of the recession. According to Businessweek, the latest studies show the U.S. collects about $8 billion yearly in taxes from alcohol, yet the total cost to the U.S. in 2008 due to alcohol-related problems was $185 billion, which created a huge loss.

Taxpayer dollars will most likely be paying for increased crime cases if these propositions pass. With three shootings recently reported at Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensaries, there are now more questions about neighborhood safety. Colorado is seeing increased crime and a growing black market associated with their medical marijuana dispensaries (Fox 31 KDVR News). The Netherlands has discovered that normalizing marijuana increased dependence on the drug, increased dealers of harder drugs, and attracted many "drug tourists" from other countries (CS Monitor). Medical marijuana and legalized marijuana raise major issues about a mood-altering drug, economics and crime impacts that all contribute to Journey Healing Centers' opposition.

Background:
Journey Healing Centers operates drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers in Arizona and Utah, and has been featured on MTV's Gone Too Far, PBS, ABC News 15 Phoenix, ABC 4 Salt Lake City, USAToday.com and in People Magazine. Journey Healing Centers has supported thousands dealing with addictions through Residential Programs, Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP), Sober Living Homes, Aftercare and a Free 24-Hour Hotline with Addiction Specialists: 1-866-774-5119. http://journeyrecoverycenters.com

References:

MSNBC - Medical Marijuana Requests Jump Sky High
msnbc.msn.com/id/30217044/

PBS - Need to Know (3rd story about CA medical marijuana)
pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/video/need-to-know-may-21-2010/953/

NIDA Research Report - Marijuana Abuse
drugabuse.gov/ResearchReports/marijuana/

New York Times - Marijuananomics in California
freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/29/marijuananomics-in-california/

FOX 31 KDVR News - Denver, Colorado
kdvr.com/news/kdvr-xgr-medical-marijuana-030410,0,4196633.story

CS Monitor - Benefits from a marijuana tax? California is dreaming.
csmonitor.com/Commentary/the-monitors-view/2010/0408/Benefits-from-a-marijuana-tax-California-is-dreaming

NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse) InfoFacts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction
drugabuse.gov/infofacts/understand.html

Businessweek - Legalize Marijuana for Tax Revenue
businessweek.com/debateroom/archives/2009/03/legalize_mariju.html

Media Contact:
Liz Brown
Journey Healing Centers
310-795-1485

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