Anti-Medical-Marijuana Arizona Republic Eviscerated by Local Doctor

Categories: News analysis
Bob Doran via Flickr

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.
Arizona Republic editorial board (in red) after trying to argue against medical marijuana.
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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The people who fraudulently scam for mmj cards are worth it.  What I mean by this is that they can't scam for mmj, they would probably be scamming for other Rx meds anyway and those are even easier to obtain. If having easier access to marijuana "legally" keeps them from doing harsher, more addictive and destructive drugs, it is still an improvement.   Besides, if 90% of MMJ Card holders are frauds, it's still worth it just to keep the 10% from being put in a position where they could become dependent upon pain meds and eventually have their lives completely ruined.


The Republic got it right on this one. The good doctor's using mere anecdotes to prove a bigger point, and fails. She has one 20-year-old patient with cerebral palsy who needs help. That makes sense. If she had 5,000 come through the door next week, would it raise an eyebrow? It should.


wow, This ruins it for the real users, still, I dont care, recreational marijuana is fine, my neighbors drink and its annoying as fuck when they come to my door and ask for money, only to get way more wasted.

I have a pinched nerve in my back and had to get a nerve conduction test, which really hurts, Vicodin makes me depressed and makes my heart feel like its stopping and im going to pass out. Marijuana extracts and edibles are good enough for me for the whole day or two. But, legalize it for recreational use. Sorry if you disagree with me while you drink beer in the future.


Every honest participant in the "medical" marijuana industries in California and Colorado knows that the the vast majority of "patients" are merely recreational stoners hiding behind the pretense of a "debilitating medical condition" simply to get high.

That's the incontrovertible reality of the fraud and sham that infests the industry.



Cozz topcommenter

I'm surprised anyone still reads the Arizona Republic Rag.

Flyer9753 topcommenter

I would still like to see that reporter from the Republic charged for falsifying that form he signed.

Great letter Dr. Mecagni!


People still read the AZ Republic? Who'd a thunk?

eric.nelson745 topcommenter

I just hope that the entire editorial board of the Repugnant and (I think) non-sexy Morgan Loew start experiencing severe, chronic pain. Yeah, that would serve them right.


It probably won't make any difference to them since they seem to have an immunity to anything that disagrees with their ideology.

It only took them 20 years to admit that Arpaio is a racist joke.


@_Hoosier_Daddy_ So you are saying that you know every "honest" participant? Assuming that is true, how did you determine which ones were honest? Let's see your background research.

My guess is that you don't know anything about it at all. 

valleynative topcommenter


Those who are committing fraud to get a card could almost as easily get pot on the streets.  Do you really want to stop honest citizens in pain from having access just to inconvenience the cheats?  Does that make any kind of sense to you?


@_Hoosier_Daddy_ So while we're on the subject of frauds and shams, let's discuss the innumerable "merits" of prohibition. 


@_Hoosier_Daddy_ keep your small government out of my life.

next you'll be telling me cannabis is worse than hydromorphone.


@MrDuke The best part of the Republic is the advertisements. The rest is fish wrap.


@eric.nelson745 Perhaps Loew will share some of his fraudulently obtained bud with the Republic crew? Might improve their outlook.

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