Pubdate: Fri, 31 Jan 2003
Source: Daily Gazette (NY)
Copyright: 2003 The Gazette Newspapers
Author: Terry O'Neill


Carl Strock has struck a pessimistic note on the potential to move ahead so 
much as a single step toward legalizing marijuana for medical purposes 
(Jan. 23 column).

Commenting on a recent public hearing by the state Assembly, he notes that 
despite considerable and compelling testimony from health-care 
professionals and people with a range of painful and debilitating ailments, 
legislators are wary of engaging with the issue because "it might send the 
wrong message to young people."

Lawmakers have also been heavily lobbied - even bullied - by district 
attorneys, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Office of National Drug 
Control Policy and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, all of whom 
have adopted an apocalyptic tone on marijuana not heard since the 1930s.

Well, I'd like to send a message of my own to young people. It concerns my 
late father, a retired state trooper who died in 1997 after an agonizing 
eight-year battle with leukemia that included chemotherapy, radiation 
treatments, blood transfusions, nausea and chronic pain. I don't know 
whether my dad ever called for marijuana, but toward the end, he was 
constantly on a morphine pump.

As to those who would deny the relief that this therapy just might provide 
from all that suffering, the poet Rilke wrote: "And somewhere lions still 
roam, all unaware, in being magnificent, of any weakness." The time will 
come when they or someone they love may go through the kind of ordeal my 
father did. Far be it from me to withhold that relief from them.

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