Marijuana Helps Prevent PTSD, and Dispensaries Make Neighborhoods Safer - What's the Pot Problem Again?

Today, two recent reports shed light on the benefits of marijuana, the science behind which the federal government continues to ignore. The first is not so surprising: Marijuana may help prevent PTSD symptoms.  The second is more exciting: Medical marijuana dispensaries make neighborhoods safer. That's right.  Obama is shutting down businesses that not only sell a valuable medicine, but also prevent crime. 

According to the AFP:

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the [Haifa] university's psychology department and published in the Neuropsychopharmacology journal, found that rats which were treated with marijuana within 24 hours of a traumatic experience, successfully avoided any symptoms of PTSD. 

The rats, however, still displayed high levels of anxiety. "This shows that the marijuana administered in the proper 'window of time' does not erase the experience, but can help prevent the development of PTSD symptoms in rats,"  Dr. Irit Akirav, one of the researchers, told the AFP.  Interestingly, the study also found that the effects of cannabis are mediated by the amygdala, the part of the brain that handles stress, fear, and trauma. 

The discovery adds just one affliction to the many conditions medical marijuana helps cure.  The plant has been proven to help fight nausea, shrink tumors, and kill pain, among many other uses.  But the federal government continues to allege that marijuana has "no accepted medical value," and Obama continues to be Bush reincarnate in the drug war, shutting down dispensaries behind the falsehood that marijuana is not medicine.

Adding benefits beyond medical to legal marijuana, the RAND institute foundthat  marijuana dispensaries actually make neighborhoods safer.  Oh, the hypocrisy. 

According to the report:

"Comparing changes in daily crime reports within areas around dispensaries that closed relative to those that remained open, we found that crime increased in the vicinity of closed dispensaries compared with those allowed to remain open."

The report said the crimes, such as breaking and entering, were sensitive to security that open dispensaries may have provided.  The data is in stark contrast to the claims of the federal government. 

As NORML said,

Police have been desperate to show the public that acceptance of marijuana commerce leads to greater crime and danger. In Los Angeles, the “pot shops cause crime” mantra was a subject of a PowerPoint presentation entitled “Summit on the Impact of California’s Medical Marijuana Laws - Dispensary Related Crime” delivered by Cmdr. Michael Regan to over 400 law enforcement officers attending in July 2009.  Regan’s slides (download here) included such terrifying claims as:

  • “Worse than combining a liquor store and a casino – lots of cash, lots of guns”

  • “…a CHP officer was paralyzed by a marijuana impaired driver.”

  • “…a group of suspects entered the dispensary, tied everyone up and robbed the place of about $50,000.”

  • “…a masked gunman fired four shots into a dispensary worker’s car as he pulled into the parking lot.”

  • “…one of the club’s customers was ambushed, robbed for his marijuana and killed at a nearby gas station.”

  • “Crimes related to dispensaries may not be associated or recorded as such.”

Yet even as these individual anecdotes were sensationalized in this 2009 presentation, just two months earlier the LA crime statistics reported by the LA Times told a different story:

[Crime is d]ramatically down. And here in Los Angeles, the drop is particularly stunning. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, compared with the same period in 2008, homicide is down by 32%; rape 12%; robbery 3%; burglary 6%, and grand theft auto a shocking 18%.

NORML's list of elected officials' statements on dispensaries and safety goes on and on, with every claim that the marijuana pharmacies are dangerous repudiated by data.  The government, it seems, will continue to deny the benefits of marijuana and it distributors until the plant has been compressed into a pill, one that patients cannot cheaply grow themselves.  After all, Sativex, a THC pill, is in the third stage of FDA-testing. Apparently, marijuana is only dangerous if you can grow and smoke it yourself.  

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at September 21, 2011, 10:50am

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