Bill opens door to addiction
As a psychiatrist who’s cared for patients over 40 years, I am in agreement with SLED Chief Mark Keel’s opinion that the proposed S.C. medical cannabis bill is a veiled move toward legalization of marijuana.
To think otherwise would be naive.
Chief proponents of the bill often reference a report by the National Academies of Sciences to support how medical marijuana helps patients. The committee that authored the report was composed of distinguished academic physicians and scientists.
However, only 1 out of 17 committee members possessed both a medical degree and a clinical psychiatry background. This is of note, since it is clinical psychiatrists who witness and treat the major problems of cannabis addiction, which is about 10% in adult users and 17% in adolescents.
The National Academies reviewed numerous statistical studies. Doctors are guided by statistics, but we treat human beings. And each human being is unique.
It’s clear the negative results from cannabis outweigh the positive. The study’s conclusions noted varying degrees of evidence for increased risks of: vehicle crashes; overdose injuries in children where cannabis is legal; lower birth weight in newborns; development of schizophrenia, mania, depression, psychosis, increased suicidal thoughts, attempts and completion; development of anxiety; and increased severity of PTSD.
These pernicious warnings are rarely noted.
As a physician, I have only compassion for the suffering of people. However, getting a foot inside the political door to legalize marijuana would only open us more to a future of addiction and misery.
Dr. JOSEPH ZEALBERG
Keel statements misleading
A recent op-ed by SLED Chief Mark Keel contained a number of misleading statements.
It is true that doctors cannot prescribe and pharmacies can’t dispense cannabis because it is a Schedule I controlled substance.
In referencing the Winthrop poll on the issue, Mr. Keel omitted that the poll found that 78% of all South Carolinians felt cannabis should be legalized for medical reasons.
Because of the complex nature of cannabis, finding the correct strain and dose is, by necessity, going to require careful trial, following a physician’s recommendations, to find what is best for each patient.
The FDA evaluation process typically depends on studying only one chemical and would not work for cannabis.
Regarding the danger of cannabis, no one has ever died from the direct toxic effects of cannabis, unlike tens of thousands of individuals who have died from prescription opioids.
That cannabis is a gateway to harder drugs is forcefully disputed by many experts. Indeed, there is evidence that cannabis can be a gateway out of opioid use for many.
It’s the physician’s job to make recommendations that minimize risk and optimize benefit, and parents’ job to control access to minors.
The S.C. Senate bill is one of the most conservative in the nation. It requires tight control and extensive education by recommending physicians and does not open the door to recreational use.
S.C. citizens deserve to have medical cannabis as a legal option, like the citizens of 37 other states in the nation.
Dr. BILL GRIFFITH
Join creek cleaning
In response to the March 31 letter about the trash left in Filbin Creek, I would like to encourage our community to join in the planned Filbin Creek cleanup from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.
We will meet at the Filbin bridge on Attaway Street.
Masks will be required. The event is organized by Filbin Friends and Charleston Waterkeeper.
Words of wisdom
Watching the Minneapolis trial of a police officer accused of killing a man already in handcuffs for a nonviolent offense, I’m reminded of a recent conversation with a Berkeley County sheriff’s deputy.
We were in a coffee shop talking about good cops and bad cops.
He said, “Good cops wear the badge. With bad cops, the badge wears them.”
Oyster Bay Drive
Make windfall count
With such a windfall for our state schools, it seems that it would be within the federal guidelines to reduce class sizes, introduce teacher’s aides in each classroom and extend the daily class time as well as the number of instructional days.
These educational spending innovations might just restore the learning lost during the pandemic.
The state could spent its tax dollars on bonuses for teachers.
Opportunities like this rarely happen, and maybe some benefit might come out of this health disaster.
DENNIS J. DONAHUE JR.
Isle of Palms
Who’s in charge?
I thought that President Joe Biden assigned Vice President Kamala Harris to take the lead on the border crisis, but according to her, she has a very limited role.
Who, then, is the person in charge of the border situation? One would think that Mr. Biden was elected to be the leader of this country.