Pubdate: Mon, 1 Jun 2009
Source: News Journal, The (Wilmington, DE)
Copyright: 2009 The News Journal
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


State Sen. Margaret Rose Henry, who won the long and necessary fight
for a needle-exchange program for street drug addicts, is moving with
as much forethought on the issue of medical marijuana.

She is backed by a growing medical community consensus and possibly
critical judicial authority.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge
to California's medical marijuana law, thus allowing it to stand.
Likely, the nation's highest court has come to the right conclusion
about marijuana's value in terms of alleviating patient suffering,
particularly the excruciating pain and side effects from treatments
for catastrophic illnesses.

Sen. Henry wants Delaware to become the 14th state to legalize
marijuana solely for such purposes. Senate Bill 94 would require
doctor certification of the medical need. Residents would be allowed
to have up to 6 ounces of marijuana for a month's supply and be issued
identification cards to prevent prosecution for having that amount or
less. A regulated process would be used to allow patients to grow
their own plants. The state would license centers to grow marijuana
for medicinal purposes.

S.B. 94 would usher Delaware into an appropriately modern era allowing
the state to address a legitimate social need by users of banned
substances. In the case of dirty needles, addicts are able to exchange
them for clean ones to avoid transmission of HIV, one of the leading
causes of AIDS in that population.

But there are lessons to be learned from elsewhere. For example,
patients in Washington and Oregon worry about tainted batches of "pot"
from poorly monitored and regulated facilities, even state-managed
sites. They urge distribution from accredited medical facilities.

Other states rightly worry that some users won't be able to comply
with regimented laws and resort to the black market.

By barring patients and caregivers from growing their own marijuana
plants, Oregon calculated, it could raise $188 million a year for the
state budget off 10,000 pounds of medical marijuana sold each month.
Patients would pay state tax of $98 per ounce.

In this current economy, the profit potential is enticing.

But S.B. 94's priority should be to quickly provide access to a
consoling drug for ailing patients in keeping with the medicinal adage
to do no harm. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake