The public conversation about how to regulate medical marijuana has been an emotional one, with people from both sides of the issue making their points. Some people want a moratorium, some want an out-and-out ban and some want its use to continue under state law. All who have spoken have agreed that more regulation of the substance is not an option, but a necessity. Medical cannabis user Ric Cecil, who holds a doctorate in psychology and a license in family therapy, said that patients who use cannabis are not as adverse to more regulations as people might imagine. "There's no question that (medical marijuana) needs to be regulated in some way," he said. Lawmakers should "do as much as possible to regulate the quality, production and the sale" of all commodities, he said. "Comply with the law and help people," he said, "that should be our goal." People will always find the loopholes in laws. Criminal thinking will always exist regardless of what laws are in place, he said. "Let's look at ways of providing more appropriate services to people who are not misusing it," he added. Cecil, who is a two-time cancer survivor, said that he actually uses medical cannabis for pain caused by bulging discs in his back. When he was in the Navy, he fell down a cargo hold and broke both his wrists and his back, he said. Mainstream narcotics gave him nightmares and made him feel like a walking zombie, he said. So when marijuana became an option, "I said, 'That's what I want to Do,'" he said. "I try to do other things, other than just masking my pain," he said. But he does take cannabis in the evenings, usually in a honey- like form or by vaporization, he added. He's never high when he sees patients at his family therapy practice, when he must appear in court or when he's teaching at Montana State University-Northern, he said. He just takes small doses in the evenings for his pain. Being a therapist, as well as a fo rme r pas to r in the Assemblies of God Church, and believing in honesty and disclosure, Cecil said he tells all his patients that he is a medical marijuana user and gives them the option to seek treatment elsewhere, upfront. The practice has not suffered, he added. He's clean now, but Cecil, who was once a street kid, said that he doesn't have a lilly white record when it comes to drug use in his past. Being young in the 1960s meant that he was part of the drug culture, he said. He was at Haight and Ashbury streets in San Francisco for the Summer of Love, he added. "And then, most of us grew up," he said. Easy access to medical marijuana is not necessarily the answer, and at the same time, "imprisoning people for trying to make themselves feel better is not the answer," he said. "I'd love to have people enter into dialogue," he said, adding that he would volunteer himself for any type of community committee on the issue. The issue at this point is zoning, committee Chairperson Janet Trethewey said after the Planning and Development Committee meeting Tuesday, during which the four-member committee discussed zoning and moratoriums on businesses needing zoning variances. Medical marijuana operations are one of the businesses that would need variances. The committee members were elected to City Council by residents and residents should bring their concerns to members so that they can make decisions with residents' comments in mind, Mayor Tim Solomon said. Citizens can form committees on their own if they would like to, he added. The issue of medical marijuana is larger than any city can tackle on its own, he said, saying that the state should step up regulations. For dialogue to be constructive, though, it needs to strive for balance instead of one extreme or another, Cecil said. Emotional arguments need to be deleted from the equation and scientific arguments and statistics need to be used instead, he said. He shared information from a Dutch study published in 2005 that cited the benefits of marijuana. Endocannabanoids "balance the system," he said, and are found in mothers' milk. They can help the body's fight against illnesses, he said. When he's teaching, Cecil said he likes to use extreme examples. People use a correlation between marijuana and heroin, claiming that marijuana use leads to heroin use, he said. However, Cecil counters that if a select group of heroin users all admit to having used marijuana, this still does not mean that the marijuana use led to the heroin use. The same people who use heroin all wore underwear when they were children, too, he said. The variables in any comparison need to correlate from each end, he added. "Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water," he said. People who use medical marijuana are not required to disclose their status, he said, and neither should they. But the right to privacy does not exist for any business open to the public, he said. "There's nothing wrong with us knowing that the IGA pharmacy sells narcotics," but names of people prescribed those narcotics is not public record. "It's not like registered sex offenders." Regardless of privacy issues, Cecil said that responsible users should make a stand to dispel some of the misinformed, inaccurate beliefs and attitudes. "It's time, guys," he said, directing his comment to professionals like doctors and lawyers and others who are using medical marijuana responsibly. "Please, join me and many other people who are willing to admit that they use cannabis responsibly."
An emotional issue for all involved
Resident shares medical marijuana story
Published: Monday, April 5th, 2010
Click Here To See More Stories Like This