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Hard on Drugs, Soft in the Head

Legalizing marijuana.

by Barnabas
December 1, 2004

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South Bay Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach ... For  the past two years he has co-sponsored an amendment prohibiting the federal government from interfering in state medical marijuana laws. It has failed both times, although Rohrabacher believes if voting were conducted by secret ballot politicians who fear being branded as soft on drugs during a re-election campaign would likely have voted for it.
—“Cure or Crime?” by Nick Green, The Daily Breeze (Torrance, CA) November 29, 2004). 
I hope the Congressman was wrong about his colleagues.  Legalizing a medical treatment is not drug abuse, nor is it a prediction of drug abuse. Addictive drugs  will be abused whether they are legal or not.  
We use common sense, however, and legalize those with positive value.  The average medicine cabinet is a deathtrap for those determined to do themselves harm, and is a source of temptation for the addict; but we still want our aspirin, our blood pressure medicine, and our anti-depressants when we need them.  
Marijuana is illegal because a law says so, not because physicians say it has no positive value. Marijuana  impairs mental and physical function, but then so do many prescription drugs. I remember discontinuing one medication because its side-effects were worse than the condition it was prescribed to treat. Some don't have that option, like the transplant patient who reminded us that he was "drug impaired" by his anti-rejection medication. His choice was impairment or death.    
The main problem with marijuana is its evil reputation.  Deserved or not, "hophead” is more pejorative than “stinking drunk.”  The main difference, it seems to me, is  that legislators are more likely  to have drunks   than hopheads in the family.    
The article quoted in the epigraph is about the plight of a woman in his area who uses a prescription for medical marijuana.  The state says this use is legal, the national government says it isn’t.  The Supreme Court of the United States is considering whether she and others like her should be permitted to continue this form of physical relief from her constant pain.  
You don’t have to be a Libertarian to say it is none of the court’s business  nor ours either. Common sense says it is patient business and doctor business, not lawyer business. No  interstate commerce is involved, nor are the people involved asking that marijuana be packaged like potato chips and sold in coin machines. Somewhere sometime people may argue that marijuana should be on the open market, but this is neither the time nor the case.  This is the simple human question of whether a patient in agonizing pain, who has found a degree of relief in marijuana,  should be allowed to continue to use it.  Her state agrees with her.  
I am not qualified to judge the medical effectiveness of marijuana,  but then neither is the Supreme Court. The lawyers and legislators should butt out and let the physicians do their thing. 

Comments (3)

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nnamelet from Fairfax VA writes:
December 12, 2004
Taken strictly on its own terms, Barnabas's pondering on marijuana might not sound so bad. But does he really think that there are more than a symbolic handful of pain-ridden patients and supporters who are pushing for liberalization of mj laws? How many people does he really believe there are in this category?

In contrast, the federal drug enforcement authority estimates there are 15 million recreational pot users in the U.S. And along with them are aggressive and wealthy organizations like the Playboy Foundation, that has supported marijuana legalization for years.

Does he think the PF is just sitting on the sidelines, letting altruistic doctors and family members do all this skilled networking and political agitation for medical marijuana legalization? A recent editorial in High Times openly clarified the current tactical preferability of pushing for medical use rather than full legalization - though that of course was the ultimate goal.

Evidently, a substantial number of people who favor reduction in tobacco use and might not vote for massive increase in public use of mood-altering drugs take the transparent manipulations of the recreational drug user establishment seriously.

What's your personal view about these things, Barnabas? Would you be ok about moving the country back to the halcyon better living through chemistry years of the 60's and 70's?


Barnabas from The Partial Observer writes:
December 13, 2004
Does Nam mean medicinal wine from a teaspoon, then beer from a bottle?

Fifteen million recreational users are not prevented by the laws we have. A sick woman looking for a prescribed, legal, licensed, remedy, is.

Michael H. Thomson from Vienna, Virginia writes:
December 14, 2004
Just a musing on legalization of maryjane and other uncontrolled substances: During the Prohibition period it wasn't the odd bootlegger that was getting rich off of illicit booze profits - it was the individuals, consortiums, etc who could finance the transport of booze into this country from Canada, Europe, the islands, Mexico or whereever... Rumor has it that some gigantic political careers were launched from that booze money. Likewise, around the world and in this country there are individuals and consortiums who are literally rolling in billions of dollars from the sale of illegal drugs.

So, despite the efforts of certain consumer groups to legalize this stuff - medical use advocates and Playboy Foundation included -why would the folks who have the money financing the growth, refinement, production, and distribution of these illicit products WANT to have their products regulated by the government?

My redneck logic tells me that these billionaires who will never appear in Forbes richest have lawyers and politicians in tow that would never let any REAL moves towards legalization transpire. Advocates for legalization such as billionaire George Soros are paupers compared to the real movers and shakers in the international drug trade. It ain't gonna happen!

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