Your Letters: It is time to stop lying about Medical Marijuana

May 07, 2008

Edwin Engelmann, Wadena Pioneer Journal

My name is Edwin Engelmann, I live in rural Minnesota, I am a veteran of the Navy Submarine Service, an ongoing patient at the Veterans Hospital for Service Connected Disabilities, a father and grandfather.

I am also on the board of directors for the Aurora Borealis chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws of Minnesota, ABNORMLMN.

I am writing in support of the medical marijuana bill HF655 and its companion SF345. This medicine can benefit a lot of sick, suffering and dying patients. There are currently many sick people in our state who use marijuana to treat their conditions, and their doctors agree that marijuana is helpful. function photoFull (URL) { day = new Date(); id = day.getTime(); eval('page' + id + ' = window.open(URL, '' + id + '', 'toolbar=0,scrollbars=0,location=0,statusbar=0,menubar=0,resizable=0,width=510,height=510,left = 137,top = 84');'); }

Governor Pawlenty should be ashamed of himself for threatening to veto the compassionate medical marijuana legislation. He claims he is doing this because of law enforcement concerns. Why does the governor side with law enforcement in wanting to keep the right to lock up cancer and AIDS patients?

After nearly four decades of fueling the U.S. policy of a war on drugs with over a trillion tax dollars and 37 million arrests for nonviolent drug offenses, our confined population has quadrupled making building prisons the fastest growing industry in the United States. More than 2.2 million of our citizens are currently incarcerated and every year we arrest an additional 1.9 million more guaranteeing those prisons will be bursting at their seams. Every year we choose to continue this war will cost U.S. taxpayers another $69 billion. Despite all the lives we have destroyed and all the money so ill spent, today illicit drugs are cheaper, more potent, and far easier to get than they were 35 years ago at the beginning of the war on drugs. Meanwhile, people continue dying in our streets while drug barons and terrorists continue to grow richer than ever before. We would suggest that this scenario must be the very definition of a failed public policy. This madness must cease!

The stated goals of current U.S. drug policy — reducing crime, drug addiction, and juvenile drug use — have not been achieved, even after nearly four decades of a policy of “war on drugs.” This policy, fueled by over a trillion of our tax dollars, has had little or no effect on the levels of drug addiction among our fellow citizens, but has instead resulted in a tremendous increase in crime and in the numbers of Americans in our prisons and jails. With 4.6 percent of the world’s population, America today has 22.5 percent of the world’s prisoners. But, after all that time, after all the destroyed lives and after all the wasted resources, prohibited drugs today are cheaper, stronger, and easier to get than they were 35 years ago at the beginning of the so-called “war on drugs.”

With this in mind, current and former members of law enforcement have created a drug-policy reform movement: LEAP. They believe that to save lives and lower the rates of disease, crime and addiction, as well as to conserve tax dollars, we must end drug prohibition. LEAP believes that a system of regulation and control of production and distribution will be far more effective and ethical than one of prohibition. They do this in hopes that those in Law Enforcement can regain the public’s respect and trust, which have been greatly diminished by their involvement in imposing drug prohibition.

Many otherwise illegal substances, such as cocaine and morphine, can legally be prescribed by doctors. I know this from experience.

There is no reason a patient should face jail for using marijuana on his or her doctor’s recommendation.

Currently, patients for whom the standard, legal drugs are not effective are left with two terrible choices: (1) continue to suffer, or (2) obtain marijuana illegally and risk suffering the consequences. Not only do patients risk being arrested and going to jail (not exactly the best environment for someone who’s seriously ill), but they also risk buying impure or contaminated marijuana from the criminal market. H.F. 655 would eliminate both of these risks. Patients would no longer worry about getting arrested for trying to ease their pain and suffering.

In response to the spurious and misleading claims by the U.S government suggesting that cannabis has “no accepted medical value,” Americans for Safe Access has collected some of the most relevant international research into cannabinoids and the therapeutic use of cannabis.

For more information on this important topic please go to the Minnesotans for Compassionate Care Web site www.minnesotacares.org.

I encourage everyone reading this letter to take a moment to contact Governor Pawlenty’s office and urge him not to veto the medical marijuana bill. You can reach him by e-mailing tim.pawlenty@state.mn.us or by calling (651) 296-3391 or (800) 657-3717.

Edwin Engelmann

Franklin, Minn.



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