Pubdate: 18 Feb 1999
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Contact:  (808) 525-8090
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. 
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MAP posted-by: Mike Gogulski