Pubdate: Thu, 20 Nov 2008
Source: Green Bay Press-Gazette (WI)
Copyright: 2008 Green Bay Press-Gazette
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


An interesting sidelight from Election Day 2008 is what happened up
the road and over the pond in Michigan, where 63 percent of voters
approved the removal of state penalties for registered patients who
buy, grow or use small amounts of marijuana for medical purposes.

Michigan thus becomes the eighth state where a ballot initiative has
OK'd the use of marijuana for therapeutic purposes. Legislatures in
four other states have enacted medical marijuana laws, so nearly a
quarter of the country has moved in this direction.

Recreational use of marijuana remains illegal everywhere and we're not
suggesting that law be changed.

On the other hand, most all of us know or have known someone whose
suffering might have been alleviated from its purported medical
qualities. The most-cited benefits of medicinal marijuana are as an
anti-nauseant for cancer chemotherapy and to treat nausea and appetite
loss in HIV/AIDS.

The Michigan campaign featured two faces of the struggle to legalize
marijuana as a medicine, according to The Associated Press coverage of
the initiative's success. Rochelle Lampkin of Detroit suffers from
multiple sclerosis and experiences blindness from optic neuritis, and
George Wagoner, a retired physician from Manistee, helped his wife of
51 years by procuring marijuana to ease her symptoms of

It's foolish to equate these legitimate efforts to aid seriously ill
patients with the plague of street drugs, but that's been precisely
the federal government's reaction to the states that have passed such

Justice Department funds continue to be used to arrest and prosecute
patients even where state laws permit access to physician-supervised
medical marijuana. During his campaign President-elect Obama pledged
to respect the will of the voters in those states; he should keep that

With medical marijuana about to become legal just north of the border,
perhaps it's time for Wisconsin to take a serious look. There is no
need to rush to judgment, but lawmakers should investigate the idea by
holding hearings to gauge public support.

It may even be a subject worthy of a statewide referendum.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake