Pubdate: Tue, 8 May 2007
Source: Winona Daily News (MN)
Copyright: 2007 Winona Daily News
Author: Darrell Ehrlick, on behalf of the The Winona Daily News editorial board
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


To hear some Republican legislators talk, Minnesota might as well 
start putting heroin in milk and open a methadone clinic on every 
street corner. A new law in the Legislature has created quite a 
little rhetoric by some politicians who worry that legalizing 
marijuana for medical use would throw open the door to drugs.

Really, Minnesota would join 12 other states in making medical 
marijuana legal. What that means is that those with a marijuana card 
would be held immune from state prosecution for possession or use of 
the drug, while the federal authorities could, if they chose, still 
prosecute those who possess marijuana, a violation of federal drug law.

A slim majority of Senate lawmakers have chosen common sense over 
rhetoric and done the right thing by passing a medical marijuana 
bill. Our two local senators, Sharon Erickson Ropes and Steve Murphy, 
both voted in favor of the humane law.

As we live longer, we are faced with more terminal diseases that take 
life one miserable piece at a time rather than suddenly. That means 
that palliative care - or managing pain - is going to become more and 
more essential in our society. Marijuana for medical purposes has 
that kind of potential.

For those who argue that marijuana's prevalence in our society will 
only result in more children and adults becoming addicted, we've got 
news for you: Marijuana is already commonplace in our communities. 
Medical marijuana's impact on the streets of Minnesota will most 
likely be negligible because those who need it aren't doing it for a 
high; it's not an illicit drug to them. It's something to be used, 
like a prescription or aspirin - something to make them feel better.

For too long, opponents of the medical marijuana debate have confused 
it with the War on Drugs. But medical marijuana has nothing to do 
with illicit drug use. This is about using the drug for palliative 
care. It's no different than prescription pain killers that can be 
and often are abused.

It seems unfair - even cruel - to ban marijuana from those who might 
use it to have a life that's more pain free just because of the 
potential for abuse by a few. We must think of the good that will be 
served by those who will use it for legitimate medical purposes and 
prosecute those who obtain it illegally.

We hope the Minnesota House will follow suit and pass a similar bill.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has threatened to veto this bill because he 
believes it will make it harder for law enforcement officers to do their jobs.

While we don't think a police officer's job should be any harder, we 
also trust their professional judgment to determine the difference 
between illicit use and medical use. We wish the governor would give 
the law enforcement community a little more credit. And we wish the 
governor would support legislation that would help demonstrate that 
compassionate and conservative are more than just words in a party slogan.

We hope that someday the need for medical marijuana will end. That 
would mean that medical science has eliminated chronic, painful and 
debilitating diseases. But that day isn't here now. For now, there's 
compassion and maybe soon, there'll be medical marijuana in Minnesota.

The Winona Daily News editorial board also includes publisher Rusty 
Cunningham and online editor Jerome Christenson. To comment, call 
453-3522 or send e-mail to  
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