Pubdate: Thu, 21 May 2009
Source: Atlanticville (NJ)
Copyright: 2009 Greater Media Newspapers
Author: Greg Bean
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


My father died a hard death from lung cancer in 1983. From the first 
diagnosis, about six months before he passed, there was never any 
real hope, since his type of cancer is nearly always fatal.

Still, he tried to beat it with ever-more aggressive chemotherapy 
treatments that took his hair and his body and his energy.

Toward the end, he weighed about 120 pounds, in large part because he 
had no appetite and didn't eat.

I had a solution. I offered to get him some marijuana to stimulate 
his appetite, but he refused on the grounds that even if it worked 
and made him more comfortable, it was still illegal and he didn't 
want to spend his last days in jail.

I know his experience was not unique, and I've heard dozens of 
versions of it over the years, stories of people who might have been 
comforted by the medicinal use of marijuana, and were denied that 
comfort. But I've always been angry about that, about the fact that 
our government was so stubborn it would refuse a small comfort to a 
terminal patient. And they refused it on the grounds that marijuana 
is a so-called "gateway" drug that can lead to the use of more 
destructive chemicals, like heroin or cocaine. Not all marijuana 
users graduate to heroin, they opined, but all heroin users started 
with marijuana, so we can't allow its use in any circumstance.

As if a terminal patient had the time to graduate to heroin use.

Successive federal governments have held the line on the medical use 
of marijuana for cancer patients and glaucoma patients, even though 
13 individual states passed laws legalizing it for that purpose. The 
fed's intransigence resulted in some weird news footage as federal 
drug agents raided medical marijuana outlets permitted by local law.

We all knew it was only a matter of time before common sense 
prevailed, and it looks like that sea change may finally be taking 
place. Among the other positive changes being made by the Obama 
administration is its decision to stop prosecutions for medical marijuana use.

Perhaps they are just bowing to public opinion. The majority of 
Americans support the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, 
and almost 50 percent support the decriminalization of small amounts 
of marijuana for personal use.

But perhaps they've just decided that keepingmarijuana out of the 
hands of terminal patients and patients suffering from diseases like 
glaucoma is another institutionalized cruelty that we can simply do without.

Like waterboarding, for example.
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