Medical marijuana humanitarian way to go

May 17, 2005

EDITORIAL, Troy Record

The passage of an on-time budget by the state Legislature this year has cleared the way for action of bills that have languished in limbo for more years than we care to count.
And that's good news. The better news is that our legislators are taking their jobs seriously this session and acting on long-dormant matters.

One concern that has been prominently featured for several years is the passage of a law that would allow the medical use of marijuana in the state, and it would be a humanitarian law that is long overdue.

TV personality Montel Williams was in Albany again this year. He suffers from multiple sclerosis and, as he readily admits, he is in constant pain, and the only relief he gets is from the use of medical marijuana obtained when he is at his residence in California, where use of the drug when prescribed by a doctor is legal.

He made an ardent and articulate plea last week for relief when he is in New York. One of the people who listened with a sympathetic and supportive ear was Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.

Bruno, a cancer survivor, has experienced first-hand the pain and trauma of suffering from a debilitating disease, and we applaud him for adopting the cause.
Gov. Pataki, however, seems to need a lot more convincing before he will go along with legalizing marijuana under any circumstance.

Weighing in along with Pataki is the state Department of Health, which says there are legal remedies just as or even more effective as marijuana. If so, why can't people who find themselves in Williams' situation get access to these drugs?
Department officials also talk of the dangers of smoking 'raw' marijuana. 

What the Legislature should be considering is that the cannabis in question would be farmed under controlled conditions, processed and dispensed only through pharmacies.

The argument that the marijuana could get into the hands of illegal users and young people doesn't hold water either. Anti-depressants and other powerful, psychoactive drugs regularly get stolen by addicts, but we see no move to ban those legitimate pharmaceuticals.

Medical marijuana works, and it should be legitimized, the sooner the better, so as to ease the suffering of thousands.

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