Measure 5 supporters want North Dakota voters to believe the measure creates a process for marijuana use that is a safer alternative to traditional prescription medications. What they've not mentioned is that there is not enough scientific evidence to prove the benefits outweigh the risks.
The supporters also have not mentioned that Measure 5 authorizes the use of marijuana for medical purposes without the oversight of a doctor or any other medical professional.
Under the proposal, people who claim to suffer from certain medical conditions can buy their marijuana from a so-called "Compassionate Care Center" or "Designated Care Provider."
Do not let the names fool you; Compassionate Care Center staff and Designated Care Providers are not required to have any medical or pharmaceutical training.
The chemical ingredients in marijuana vary drastically. It is unreasonable to believe a person without any medical or pharmaceutical training can adequately measure the chemical ingredients in marijuana and prescribe the correct dosage to individual patients with an array of different conditions.
Worse, Measure 5 also provides people with an option to grow their own marijuana and use it in the potency and frequency they determine themselves. This is not good medical practice.
Supporters also want voters to believe marijuana is the only viable option for people who are not getting adequate pain relief. The truth is FDA-approved medications containing THC, an active ingredient in marijuana, already are available in North Dakota.
Additional medications containing cannabidiol are in the final stages of the FDA process and likely will be available soon. Unlike marijuana, these medications have undergone significant scientific testing and also are available only through a prescription.
If the lack of scientific evidence and medical oversight is not enough, consider the enormous costs. To implement Measure 5, the Department of Health will need a $2.5 million appropriation. And this does not include the additional financial burden that will be faced by other state entities, in particular law enforcement.
I appreciate the concerns of those who have to contend with medical issues that elude relief. I support additional research on potential medical benefits of medical marijuana.
But that does not mean we should support a measure that is too complicated, expensive and unproven. And Measure 5 will not make North Dakota or its citizens safer or healthier.
Stenehjem is attorney general of North Dakota.