RI medical marijuana bill is victory for patients

January 06, 2006

EDITORIAL, Narragansett Times (RI)

In a 59-13 vote Tuesday, the House of Representatives overrode Governor Carcieri's veto of a 2005 General Assembly bill, thereby making Rhode Island the 11th state since 1996 to legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and we say it's about time.On June 6, 2005 a high court ruled that patients who use pot under recommendation by their doctors are not exempt from prosecution under federal law.

Carcierci said he opposed the legislation because marijuana use and cultivation is against federal law and legalizing the drug on a state level for any purpose causes a law enforcement conflict.

While that might be true, we sincerely hope our federal courts have more pressing issues to address than prosecuting the chronically ill and dying for smoking dope to relieve their suffering.

Other opponents of the legislation say it's a travesty, that it sends an irresponsible message to our youth about the use of illegal drugs.

We're not so sure about that.

Any PTA or anti-drug abuse coalition that doesn't think adolescents are just as likely to experiment with "safer" prescription drugs, such as Vicodin, Adderall, and Percocet (all of which are habit-forming and known to cause withdrawl symptoms by the way) is naïve.

Weren't certain cold remedies containing pseudoephedrine taken off drug store shelves recently because some rocket scientists were using them to make concentrated methanphetamine?

Studies conducted by numerous universities and medical institutions suggest that it is virtually impossible to overdose on marijuana and that even heavy smokers exhibit little to no withdrawl symptoms, save the potential for bouts of brief insomnia and mild anxiety.

And while studies have shown that marijuana smoke is more harmful to the lungs than cigarette smoke (which, while undeniably bad for you, is still legal) does anyone honestly believe that someone ailing from cancer or AIDS cares about what their lung tissue will look like after they die if they can't stand the pain they're enduring while they're still living?

The Food and Drug Administration requires drug manufacturers warn consumers of side affects associated with all FDA approved medications.

You've heard them all during those commercials on TV where they show happy people doing everyday things with virtually no indication whatsoever about what the drug being promoting is actually used to treat.

But they do tell you that whatever it is, taking it could cause nausea, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, high blood pressure, stroke, certain sexual side effects in men and women, shortness of breath, and even thoughts of suicide.

Not every prescription or over-the-counter drug works or is appropriate for everyone.

Will marijuana work for everyone with multiple sclerosis, cancer, AIDS, HIV, wasting syndrome, Crohn's disease, Alzheimer's, and epilepsy? No.

Will it work for some of those patients? Yes and that's why this law makes sense.
Because this law is not about making "pot-heads happy" or about the importance of teaching our children the dangers of drug abuse period, it's about giving patients and doctors another option when it comes to treating chronic conditions and terminal illness. Period.

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