Although there are many strides being taken towards the acceptance of medical marijuana, there is still a long way to go before its stigma is removed.
One of the biggest arguments against MMJ is the impression that marijuana is a gateway drug to harder drugs like heroin and cocaine. Dr. Andrew Kolodny, president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing and the Chief Medical Officer of Phoenix House, a nonprofit addiction treatment organization, argues that there is no evidence to support the idea of weed being a gateway drug.
In 1970, President Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act into law, which classified drugs into five categories (schedules) based on their acceptable medical use and dependency potential. Currently, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it has no accepted medical use, a high potential for abuse, and is one of the most dangerous drugs with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence. Other schedule 1 drugs include heroin, ecstasy, and LSD.
Dr. Kolodny argues that MMJ is less dangerous than some prescription schedule 2 and schedule 3 drugs, like Vicodin or Ritalin, and should be put on a different schedule. Dr. Jay Joshi, CEO and medical director of National Pain Centers, argues that more doctors would be willing to prescribe MMJ if it wasn’t classified as a Schedule 1 drug. Unfortunately, there is too much stigma attached and many doctors fear being ostracized by their peers.
There is scientific research and evidence to back up MMJ, but it is not leading national policy debate or decisions. Thankfully, science and research are leading some state’s policy decisions. Those looking for MMJ doctors and dispensaries in Colorado Springs can easily find them.
While there is still a long way to go before MMJ is accepted nationally, users and non-users can be reassured that marijuana is not a gateway drug.