Pubdate: Tue, 19 Jun 2007
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Copyright: 2007 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


Two years ago, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, was 
one of the few state leaders calling for New York to adopt a humane 
medicinal marijuana law. George Pataki, who was governor at the time, 
was opposed, perhaps because he was seeking to burnish his 
tough-on-crime credentials as a possible 2008 Republican presidential 
nominee. Eliot Spitzer, who was attorney general in 2005, and the 
state's chief prosecutor, was also opposed. The measure went nowhere.

But now Mr. Spitzer is governor and he says he has had a change of 
heart on medicinal marijuana. Before, he says, he was thinking like a 
prosecutor. Now, as governor, he says, he has come to recognize the 
beneficial effects that marijuana can have for chronically ill people 
and he is prepared to sign a medical marijuana law that is "properly 

The Legislature should send him one. The palliative benefits of 
marijuana are well documented. For many cancer patients, marijuana is 
the only substance that helps ease the nausea that accompanies 
chemotherapy. Other victims of chronic illnesses also cite the relief 
that marijuana can bring, including the television talk show host 
Montel Williams, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.

Ideally, Congress would pass a federal law allowing doctors to 
prescribe marijuana, but the lawmakers have not shown the political 
courage to do so. As a result, more and more states are taking the initiative.

Allowing the use of marijuana under a doctor's supervision is no 
different than a patient being prescribed morphine or other pain 
killers. The argument of opponents -- namely, that marijuana is a 
gateway drug and legalization for medical purposes would lead to 
rampant abuse -- has never had any merit. The issue has always been 
about pain, and how to ease it. The sooner Gov. Spitzer signs a law 
structured to that effect, the better. 
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