December 6, 2005
Gets in Your Politics
This week's Time Magazine basically lists marijuana as
a medicine. Now, can Washington and President Bush finally wake
up and change federal policy so that states can allow sick people
to use medical marijuana if they need it?
what Time reports in an article on the year in medicine:
"Research into the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects
of cannabis continued to bolster the case for the medicinal use
of marijuana, making the 'patient pot laws' that have passed in
11 states seem less like a social movement than a legitimate medical
then cites studies that found that cannabis lessened the pain
and suppressed rheumatoid arthritis and "can reduce inflammation
in the brain and may protect it from the cognitive decline associated
with Alzheimer's disease."
politicians would be a little bit more willing to listen to the
voters, they'd find there is more support than they think,"
noted Tommy McDonald of the anti-drug war Drug Policy Alliance.
AARP polled Americans over 45 in 2004 and found that 72 percent
support allowing patients to use medical marijuana if a physician
recommends it. That number can only grow, as people see family
members and friends benefit from the drug. A late friend of mine
used marijuana to increase her appetite and ease her discomfort
as she fought cancer. Yes, she tried Marinol, the legal pill-form
equivalent to marijuana, but it didn't do the job.
Bush first ran for the White House and he was asked about medical-marijuana
laws, The Washington Post reported, Bush answered (as
only Bush answers), "I believe each state can choose that
decision as they so choose."
alas, Bush has taken a hard-line approach. His administration
has challenged states that voted to legalize medical marijuana.
White House Drug Czar John Walters contends that medical-marijuana
is a cynical gambit used by people who want to legalize all drugs
and are hiding behind sick people to advance a pro-drug agenda.
Francisco politicians, if reluctantly, have come to a similar
conclusion, as they have had to deal with the crime that hangs
like smoke around some pot clubs. City legislators have proposed
limits -- an ounce per visit instead of a pound -- to cut down
I know that
folks at the drug czar's office bristle at the notion that they
lack compassion for sick people. But it's true. They may mean
well, but if they really cared about people who are suffering,
they would help them get what they need.
borrow a page from the Special City and tell the Department of
Justice and other federal agencies to back off if states follow
criteria designed to separate the sick from the stoned. But the
Bushies can't do that because they won't recognize marijuana's
Americans for Safe Access has filed a lawsuit against the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services to stop the agency from
claiming that marijuana has no medical use. The goal, according
to a press release, is to force the government to "publicly
admit that marijuana is now effectively used for medical treatment,
clearing the way for medical reclassification that would eventually
allow doctors to prescribe it to their patients nationwide."
Bush should act. He can start by telling federal agencies not
to enforce drug laws against medical marijuana users in states
that have legalized its use and employ specific safeguards to
should call for the removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances
Act's Schedule 1 table -- reserved for such serious drugs as heroin,
with no medical use -- and put marijuana into a category that
allows doctors to prescribe it.
sick people would save the federal government money -- by cutting
legal and penal expenses. It would leave medical decision-making
to doctors. And it would uphold states' rights.
plus: It would show that Bush still can confound his critics.
It would be like his 2003 Thanksgiving in Baghdad -- but Christmas
for those who are sick or in pain.
2005 Creators Syndicate