Ignorance doesn’t discriminate. It is not exclusive to any race, creed, religion, economic status or intelligence level. This is because ignorance often comes down to a simple lack of perspective – and lack of perspective is a flaw every human can succumb to.

In our minds we tend to exclude some groups of people from those who fall prey to this flaw; we put our trust in them as authorities and experts, and we often – whether we mean to or not – let them make decisions for us.

But a so-called person of authority can be just as ignorant about a subject as anyone else. The fact that people see them as an authority or expert on a matter may be the very reason they are blind to seeing a subject from another perspective.

As an example, let us examine a recent op-ed written by Dr. John C. Ropp III, chairman of the Board of the South Carolina Medical Association. It is a screed of jumbled misconceptions and odd justifications so full of ignorance about cannabis that one would have to assume the author had never really looked into the issue at all.

You see, Dr. Ropp thinks that the consideration of medical marijuana in South Carolina is ill-considered because he feels that doctors shouldn’t be the ones in charge of making decisions about cannabis, at least until others in the federal government tell them that it’s okay.

Of legislators in South Carolina, Dr. Ropp said they “intend to have this debate as though it were a medical issue by making physicians the singular access point for the ‘marijuana drug.’” Beyond the offensive ignorance inherent in the phrase “as though it were a medical issue”, Dr. Ropp seems to be saying that there is a problem with doctors making decisions on matters of health, an odd abdication of responsibility by someone who presumes to speak for all doctors in the state.

Dr. Ropp feels it is wrong to force “physicians to decide who can and cannot have access to marijuana.” On this I can agree with the good doctor. The only person’s permission needed for someone to ingest marijuana should be the person themselves. But, of course, Dr. Ropp thinks that no one should have the power to decide such matters, at least not until the government has decreed it so.

Dr. Ropp then spends two paragraphs explaining the Controlled Substances Act and why marijuana is placed under Schedule 1, as if the placement of cannabis on that list is in any way justified.

“As physicians, our main concern is medical safety and efficacy, which can only be clearly determined for marijuana after controlled scientific testing on a widespread peer-reviewed basis,” he writes. “For decades, the DEA, FDA, and National Institutes of Health have all agreed on this same process.”

So until the authorities that have wrongly kept marijuana as Schedule I for almost 50 years decide that they made an error and rectify the situation, Dr. Ropp thinks putting the power to recommend marijuana in the hands of doctors is a dangerous proposition. Until the FDA – the agency that has approved drugs that kill tens of thousands of people every year while cannabis has never killed anyone – deems cannabis a medicine, it should not be considered as one.

Ignorance is a powerful thing, but it shouldn’t have the power to deny human beings sovereignty over their own bodies when it comes to what medicine they are allowed to ingest.