North Dakota is one of the states where medical marijuana legalization is up for a vote in the upcoming elections. Already, the measure is causing divisions among residents. Those in support of claiming that cannabis helps with pain, while those against argue that there is no solid scientific evidence to prove pot’s medical uses.
There are four states with ballot measures that seek to join the list of 25 states where medical marijuana is already legal. In North Dakota, the ballot initiative is called Measure 5, San Francisco Gate reports.
Linda Kersten, a firm advocate for medical marijuana, uses marijuana to ease the side-effects of her daughter’s surgeries and chemotherapy treatment for stage 4 colon cancer. With pot, Kersten says her daughter was able to talk and walk. A 70-year-old teacher, Kersten says that before seeing the effects of pot on her daughter’s well-being, she would have voted no. “If I wouldn’t have seen it with my own eyes, I would have been in the same boat probably.”
Measure 5 would allow qualified patients to possess up to 3 ounces of medical marijuana to treat around a dozen health problems, like cancer, AIDS, ALS, hepatitis C, epilepsy and glaucoma. The North Dakota Health Department would issue ID cards for patients and be responsible for licensing dispensaries.
Rilie Ray Morgan, the sponsoring committee chairman, is a financial adviser from Fargo. He suffers from chronic pain, and became interested in the benefits of pot after seeing a show where CNN medical reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta laid out its advantages. He says,
It got me thinking that this is the time to get this going in North Dakota.
Opponents of the move are mostly from the medical community. They contend that there is no evidence that supports the safe use of cannabis.
Dr. Joan Connell, a pediatrician, says it’s not possible to study the positive effects of marijuana because there’s no way to get a specific dosage from the plant. “With my experience, I understand that the way to truly help the patient is not to give that family a bag of pot and say, ‘Good luck. You figure out the dosage, and I hope it’s consistent so you don’t overdose your kid,” she says.
Courtney Koebele, executive director of the North Dakota Medical Association, which has announced that it is against Measure 5, says their main issue is that marijuana is a substance that has not been tested by the Federal Drug Administration.
The North Dakota House recently rejected a medical marijuana bill after Morgan asked Democrat Pam Anderson to sponsor it. Republican Al Carlson, the House majority leader, believed that there would be problems with implementation and regulation. But he said the deal breaker was the lack of proof on cannabis’ healing properties.