Editorial: Marijuana legislation needs research, substance

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York has reignited the marijuana policy flame in the Empire State with a recent move to loosen the restrictions New York has on the drug. He is expected to endorse policies that will allow patrons to use the drug medicinally.

Currently, 20 states and the District of Columbia allow the medical use of marijuana, and with Cuomo’s recent actions, New York will join and strengthen the national trend. Many states have cited the drug’s positive  potential, including its ability to alleviate both pain and side effects of several types of cancer and AIDS, among other debilitating illnesses.

Pennsylvania, a state that has opposed the passage of any legislation allowing marijuana to be used whether medically or recreationally, has witnessed some surprising shifts in opinion. As of recent, top-tier contenders for 2014 seats in Pennsylvania’s government have put full-blown marijuana legalization at the top of their political agendas, shifting the drug’s profile to its highest levels of notoriety ever. This is premature, however, as research specific to the state of Pennsylvania should be cited overwhelmingly to indicate any sort of substance to the movement.

The state legislature is unlikely to pass any legislation regarding the legalization of the drug, which is an appropriate move. The serious lack of legitimizing factors fails to prove that Pennsylvanians can truly benefit from medical marijuana use. We simply don’t know how many, if anyone, will potentially benefit from medical marijuana.

Although medical marijuana use has proven to produce positive results, in order to convince Pennsylvania voters it is worthy of being legalized, to any extent, quality research and evidence exemplifying how beneficial it will be for Pennsylvanians should be conducted.

The Pennsylvania government should collaborate with research universities such as Pitt to conduct meaningful research that explores what Pennsylvanians will gain from the allowance of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Current efforts by Pitt researchers should be used to substantiate future legislation. This evidence should exemplify that those who are diagnosed with illnesses benefit from using marijuana treatments before state legislators attempt to introduce legislation merely for the sake of joining the bandwagon.

Daylin Leach, a state senator in Pennsylvania who is running for an open congressional seat in suburban Pennsylvania, has introduced a bill that would legalize marijuana outright. It is unlikely to pass, which might be a good thing. Returning to the drawing board to collect valuable research explaining how Pennsylvanians would benefit from the legalization of marijuana should be an act to pursue immediately.

In order to gain any sort of legitimization from Congress and Pennsylvanians against the movement, research conducted for the state itself must be done before any such law is to be discussed.


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