Pot, politics and inhumanity

May 16, 2007

EDITORIAL, The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus

Illinois lawmakers missed an opportunity that just might have prolonged, and perhaps saved, the lives of some seriously ill citizens. Instead, the state Senate's failure to legalize the use of medical marijuana did just the opposite, dashing the hopes of some terminally and seriously ill, their families and friends.

We had hoped lawmakers would at last abandon the hollow law-and-order, anti-drug political arguments of opponents, especially after the Senate Public Heallth Committee approved SB650. The bill would have protected from arrest seriously ill pateitns who use medical marijuana on their doctor's recommendation. Under the bill, patients or their primary caregivers could legally possess up to 12 marijuana plants and 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana

If approved, Illinois would have joined 13 enlightened states who put preserving public health before scoring political points. Courts, then, can continue to sentence to jail the very ill who use medical marijuana to improve their quality of life or to prolong it.

What a pity we can't sentence the 22 senators who voted against medical marijuana to spend even a day in the wheelchair of AIDS patient, vomiting life-saving medications because of nausea. Or maybe they could walk a few milels in the shoes of Gretchen Steele, the Coulterville nurse who has multiple sclerosis. She told lawmakers last month, "I can tell you from firsthand experience that marijuana works better to control the spasticity, neuropathic pain, and tremors than do any of the myriad prescription medications that I currently take. The fact that it is perfectly legal for my doctors to prescribe morphine, OxyCodone, diazepam, hydrocodone, and other drugs that are not only highly addictive but have many unpleasant side effects, yet it remains illegal to recommend marijuana, is beyond reasoning."

Funny isn't it, that so many senators are so absolutely sure she and other sufferers, and their doctors, don't know what they're talking about.

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