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Anti-Medical-Marijuana Arizona Republic Eviscerated by Local Doctor

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The Arizona Republic published a TKO of its editorial board this weekend, after the writers declared that the state's voter-approved medical-marijuana program was "one of the biggest cons around."

Dr. Gina Mecagni, a local emergency physician, simply annihilated the Republic's assertion that most medical-pot patients probably are fakers.

The Republic used the same tired argument that the program obviously invites fraud since most patients (73 percent) cite severe and chronic pain as their only debilitating condition. In addition, the Republic points out that of male medical-pot patients, 30 percent are between the ages of 18 and 30. Obviously, people between the ages of 18 and 30 are invincible, could never need any sort of medicine!

Now, enter Dr. Mecagni, whose "My Turn" column was run by the Republic. Here are the knockout punches:

I have been an emergency medicine physician for 12 years. One thing almost every one of my patients has in common is that they are in pain. Pain is the warning signal our bodies use to let us know that something is wrong.

Many patients present to the ER with chronic pain. Old injuries (reflex sympathetic dystrophy, arthritis, malocclusion, poor wound healing), adhesions (any abdominal surgery), migraines, chest pain, joint and extremity pain (rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune disorders, septic joints, bone spurs), pelvic pain. Chronic pain encompasses all of these things as well as many others.

Does that make it less real? Should I turn them away from the emergency room because chronic pain just couldn't be a reason someone would turn to a physician for help and relief? Fakers. Con artists. Drug addicts.

Unless you are old. Or have cancer. Right?

The 20-year-old with chronic pain due to spasticity from cerebral palsy. Wait. Sorry. He's 20. Couldn't be in that much pain yet. Faker. Con artist. Young, male recreational-drug user working the system.

According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Fakers. "Inherently dishonest" con artists. Or maybe it is that the Institute of Medicine is "chronically gullible," to use a phrase in The Republic's editorial.

These same patients often are encouraged by their physicians to seek alternative therapies when it seems that Western medicine has explored all of its options. When Vicodin turns to Oxycontin turns to Fentanyl, and then you are chemically dependent and out of options.

There's something about medical marijuana that many of the Valley's middle-aged (and older) reporters just can't grasp.

Remember earlier this year, CBS 5 "investigative reporter" Morgan Loew, who, after consulting a chiropractor, went to a doctor, complaining about back pain he's had for months.

The pain was "distracting," he said. He couldn't tell the doctor whether the pain made it difficult for him to concentrate on things but admitted that it limits his ability to run.

Loew described a pain that had been ongoing for months, and significantly affected his life. He even signed a form declaring he had severe and chronic pain. Once a doctor recommended a medical-marijuana card, Loew acted as if he'd just "exposed" the system, as he then declared he was perfectly fine.

Loew stated that it was proof "young, healthy" people were getting medical marijuana, despite Loew being neither young nor healthy, based on his explanation. (He also made up a statistic on medical-marijuana use for the same "investigative" report, and refused to correct it).

You know how much evidence the Arizona Republic provided to point to "abuse" of medical marijuana? Zero.

Maybe that punch in the mouth from Dr. Mecagni will knock some sense into them.

The entire editorials can be found here -- Editorial board: "Cheech and Chong would love Arizona's medical-pot law," and Dr. Gina Mecagni: "Arizona's medical-pot program actually works like this."

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

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