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The physician’s code of ethics states, “First, do no harm,” placing patient safety and public health as the central goals. Thus, one must balance the benefits and the harms of a policy such as cannabis legalization and assure that the potential benefit/harm ratio is greater in a regulated, legal cannabis marketplace than in environment where the cultivation, distribution, sale, possession, and use of cannabis is criminalized.
Today, the Spanish term ‘marijuana’ is more recognizable and commonly used in the U.S. than ‘cannabis’. Nonetheless, we must recognize that its American usage began as an ethnic slur popularized by anti-narcotic crusaders to vilify cannabis. By calling it ‘marijuana’, a group of politicians created the false impression that cannabis was introduced to the U.S. by Mexican immigrants. Thus, in naming their organization, the founders of DFCR chose to reclaim the proper medical name of the drug and the scientific name of the plant. Cannabis is also the word presently favored in almost all medical and scientific publications.
Decriminalizing cannabis typically means that cannabis possession is no longer considered a crime. There are several problems with this approach.