Pubdate: Tue, 30 Nov 2004
Source: Ledger-Enquirer (GA)
Copyright: 2004 Ledger-Enquirer
Author: Michael Owen, for the editorial board
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


It is difficult to imagine why the federal government is so adamant
about denying sick and dying Americans some relief from their suffering.

A case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court pits the interests of
states that allow medicinal marijuana against the federal government,
which has a blanket federal ban on it.

"Smoked marijuana really doesn't have any future in medicine," said
attorney Paul Clement, representing the federal government in the case.

Many patients, including two who are defendants in the case, don't
have much of a future, either.

Angel Raich has scoliosis, brain cancer and chronic nausea. She says
smoking marijuana helps more than any prescription drugs her doctors
have tried. Diane Monson has a degenerative spinal condition. She,
too, says pot helps her.

But the federal government says it doesn't help, so they'll either
have to live with the pain or live with the heavy hand of the feds
looming over them.

This is not about legalizing marijuana. It's about treating it like a
prescription drug. Doctors can already prescribe drugs that make
marijuana look fairly tame. Cocaine can be prescribed. Opioids such as
codeine, Vicodin, Dilaudid, Demerol and OxyContin can be prescribed.
Barbiturates, speed... the list goes on. If we trust the medical
profession to handle those drugs responsibly, then why can't the
government allow doctors to prescribe pot?

Because, we're told, it sends the wrong message. It hurts anti-drug

We're all for anti-drug efforts, because this nation has a serious
drug problem. But this isn't it.

Will people abuse marijuana if its medicinal use is approved? Yes, but
no more than they do already. We doubt there are too many people who
are just waiting on the outcome of this case before deciding whether
to become a pothead.

The way medical marijuana is "dispensed" in California, where this
case originated, is far from ideal. Co-ops grow the plant and
distribute it to people who have a doctor's endorsement.

We would much prefer medical marijuana to be produced under some
guidelines and supervision, packaged and sold through licensed
pharmacists, and maybe someday it will be.

But until that day, there are many, many terribly ill people, in many
cases dying people, who need help.

If we're so worried about "sending messages," here's one we can send
to those people. We care more about your suffering than about
appearing to be "tough on drugs."

Michael Owen, for the editorial board
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