Pubdate: Thu, 18 Feb 1999
Date: 02/18/1999
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Author: Nancy Kern

There has been much media attention recently, both in Hawaii and
nationwide, to efforts by numerous community-based organizations,
groups and individuals to legalize the compassionate use of marijuana
for those who are ill.

Such use would ease the suffering of these patients as they experience
the painful effects of such diseases as AIDs, multiple sclerosis,
cancer and other devastating illnesses.

One of the concerns often raised during such a discussion -- but
rarely given much serious or thoughtful consideration or debate -- is
that if such an effort were realized, it would send a "mixed message"
to young people that government and others in authority condone
marijuana use.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In supporting humane policies
that address the health and welfare needs of our sickest community
members, we are sending a message to our children that we care about
-- and have compassion for -- those of our neighbors who are suffering
most and need our help.  To do anything less is not only immoral, but
sends the message to our children that we will not do everything in
our power to care for those in our community who are suffering, even
though we have the means to do so.

We should give our children credit for the intelligence to recognize
that when we are aiding sick people by giving them access to marijuana
to ease the symptoms of their illnesses, we are not advocating the use
of the drugs by our children.  Rather, such a discussion could be
utilized as an opportunity to improve the critical and analytical
thinking skills of our children, helping them to perceive that every
situation is different and must be viewed and discussed in its context.

To present this as a black and white issue does a disservice to all
involved in the dialogue, but most of all to impressionable young people.

If the medical use of marijuana is made legal in Hawaii, we will have
served two humane purposes: alleviating the suffering of many of
Hawaii's sickest patients and demonstrating to our children the values
of compassion and caring.

Nancy Kern