Pubdate: Mon, 02 Apr 2007
Source: Register-Guard, The (OR)
Copyright: 2007 The Register-Guard
Author: Kris Millegan
Note: Kris Millegan of Walterville is president of TrineDay Press.
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


A Feb. 16 guest viewpoint by Jim Greig, "Marijuana more than
medicinal," explored the economic benefits of ending pot prohibition,
while making the point that users of medical marijuana are honestly
seeking therapeutic effects.

After Oregon citizens voted in 1998 to allowed medicinal use of
marijuana, I went to meetings and heard story after story about the
therapeutic value of cannabis. Victims of automobile and industrial
accidents with severe spinal injuries told tales of how marijuana
helped them deal with constant pain while allowing them to continue
being productive, whereas their prescription pain medicine left them
lethargic and unable to function.

Some stopped prescriptions altogether, while others were able to cut
down substantially. Some had never used marijuana before the accidents.

Patients with genetic disorders testified that marijuana helped their
disabilities. Cancer, HIV and other patients told of enduring taxing
medical treatments with the aid of marijuana - a drug that restored
their appetites, helped combat nausea and dispelled depression.

Obtaining this illegal plant was a big problem for these patients.
Many could not grow the herb themselves, nor could they afford the
street price of $300 or more per ounce. What has developed is a
cooperative effort by local patients to supply themselves.

In Oregon, these groups generally have been left alone. But in
California, the federal government has spent millions of dollars on
police raids and prosecutions.

Why is our federal government so concerned about an herb that for
thousand of years has played a beneficial role in human affairs? And
why won't politicians - federal, state or local - address this absurd

Is the old and discredited image of the devil-weed still at work? Does
propaganda about marijuana being a gateway drug still hold sway?

I am sure there are many reasons, but while organizing an annual
marijuana march, I found a reluctance to get involved very vexing. I
could find no organization or political figure that would discuss the
issue. Every elected official I asked (including some who I know have
inhaled) declined. Left groups, right groups, gay groups, Hispanic
groups, union folk and others all refused to get involved.

A small, ad hoc group of concerned citizens has been left to call for
legalization and to spur local discussion about the civic, social and
economic costs of pot prohibition.

Prohibition does not work - never has, never will. Prohibition keeps
in place a black market, which corrupts our society from the top down
and from the bottom up. Prohibition always leads to more abuse,
younger users, civil corruption and criminal enterprise.

Even with voters supporting change, we have lacked politicians with
enough gumption to discuss a rational approach. Is it the money
involved in the war on drugs?

According to the latest figures from the White House Office of
National Drug Control Policy, the official cost of the drug war in the
United States is $148.62 billion a year. Much of this pork pie is sent
to municipalities and local agencies. Are our local law enforcement
agencies and governments more committed to these federal funds than to
our unalienable rights, our republican form of government and our
collective interests?

Bear in mind that the same office of drug control policy report says
that the total economic costs of drug abuse in the United States is
$44.73 billion a year - and that includes all related productivity and
property losses, as well as costs for health care, social welfare and
institutional expenses.

Beyond the enormous savings involved, and beyond the medical and
humanitarian issues, the positive economic benefits of a legal (that
is, regulated and taxed) cannabis industry are huge. Our grass-growing
valley could again become a center of production of fiber and
construction products, creating jobs and tax revenues. And hemp may be
grown on marginal lands, allowing a regrowth of more mature timbershed.

Let us have real discussion and concerted action toward a regulated,
lawful marketplace in place of our current costly prohibition. A
significant step would be an official repudiation of cannabis
prohibitions and a legal interposition by Lane County officials
between higher officials and county citizens. Then, instead of
increasing tax burdens and continuing to jail peaceful people, as any
despot can do, we can be true pioneers and create an honest,
real-world solution.

The civic benefit of teaching our children with truth instead of lies:
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake