Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Big Move by a Little State

For what, in my opinion, is the result of inaction predicated upon political fears rather than upon any scientific underpinning, we have been unable in Illinois to legalize the use of medicinal marijuana. I am a sponsor of Rep. Larry McKeon's resolution that would do nothing more than create a commission to study the issue.

And despite some compelling and heart-wrenching testimony on the issue from medical professionals and patients alike, we have yet to be able to advance even this basic measure, let alone take the steps taken by almost a dozen other states to alleviate the suffering of sick or dying individuals.

The latest state to step up to the plate is Rhode Island whose legislature just overrode a veto of just such a measure. From Forbes.com:
Rhode Island on Tuesday became the 11th state to legalize medical marijuana and the first since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that patients who use the drug can still be prosecuted under federal law.

The House overrode a veto by Gov. Don Carcieri, 59-13, allowing people with illnesses such as cancer and AIDS to grow up to 12 marijuana plants or buy 2.5 ounces of marijuana to relieve their symptoms. Those who do are required to register with the state and get an identification card.

Federal law prohibits any use of marijuana, but Maine, Vermont, Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington allow it to be grown and used for medicinal purposes.

The U.S. high court ruled June 6 that people who smoke marijuana because their doctors recommend it can still be prosecuted under federal drug laws, even if their states allow it.

Federal authorities, however, have conceded they are unlikely to prosecute many medicinal marijuana users.
Even in this day and age, the knee-jerk reaction to any issue touching the subject of cannabis is fast and strong. I can still remember the difficulty that existed in passing legislation calling for a study of potential benefits for Illinois farmers that could result from cultivating industrial hemp. You would have thought that the Legislature was advocating passing out joints to kids.

This may be one of those issues that is safer left untouched, but I didn't create this blog to simply tread in calm waters. There are responsible ways to implement the use of medicinal marijuana, and it is impossible to listen to terminally ill patients who speak about both the benefits of its use as well as the lengths that they have to go to in order to obtain marijuana today, without feeling sympathy for their plight.

Despite the fearmongering that seems straight out of 'Reefer Madness', these people are suffering enough without our creating additional barriers for them. Social progressives already understand this, so if you want to talk about being a 'compassionate' conservative, here is a good place to start.

11 Comments:

At January 4, 2006 at 2:44 PM, Anonymous Black Libertarian said...

There are 2 reasons why a majority (although an ever-shrinking majority) of the public opposes marijuana legalization: They don't want their kids using it and they don't want dealers selling on their blocks. I wonder if a politician who framed the argument in terms of liberty could persuade more people to support the correct decision of marijuana legalization for adults. Perhaps an appropriate compromise would be for the state to license marijuana sellers with stringent checks to make sure they only sell to people over 21 and are a certain distance away from residential neighborhoods.

I know the post is about medical marijuana, but I believe that the fact that marijuana is illegal in general is a disgusting assault on the principles of freedom that this country was founded on, and also plays a large role in funding gangs, both domestic and foreign.

PS I have never in my life smoked marijuana (not even smoked but didn't inhale.

 
At January 4, 2006 at 4:35 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

bl,

I think that it is safe to say that any legislation would encompass the regulation of distributors. California is a good example of this.

This would not be a case of terminally ill patients obtaining pot from street corner drug dealers. In fact, it is the lack of a law that is forcing them into illegal, and potentially problematic, means of obtaining relief.

 
At January 4, 2006 at 7:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again we are subjected to archacic rules, that need to be changed. Medical marijuana is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Anything that alleviates suffering should be made available to those who suffer. Canabis has been around for thousands of years. Certain government entities has chosen to demonize this drug. More people are killed by drunk drivers, but then again, drinking is legal. The use of illegal drugs as well as the stream of guns will never be stopped. The government is wasting too much of it's resources trying to stop the unstoppable.


My slogan is what I do on my time, in the privacey of my home is nobodys business but mine.

 
At January 4, 2006 at 11:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, excellent post. We, as a society, need to not only legalize medicinal marijuana, but recreational marijuana as well (or at least decriminalizie). Any politician that argues for legalization of alcohol, but not marijuana is either ignorant or not being intellectually honest. John, how many signatures would be needed for a statewide referendum on legalizing medicinal marijuana? Could a referendum be put on a statewide ballot to be enacted into law or only as an advisory?

 
At January 4, 2006 at 11:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

End the war on drugs.

http://www.saferchoice.org

.

 
At January 5, 2006 at 12:03 PM, Anonymous Micronaut said...

Bearing in mind that the federal authorities are still strongly against medical marijuana, wouldn't legalization be potentially dangerous to medical marijuana users? While they would be abiding the Illinois state statutes, federal law enforcement could (and possibly would) come after them.

Conceivably, legalizing marijuana could bring additional federal focus (i.e. let's make an example) on marijuana users in Illinois.

 
At January 5, 2006 at 12:14 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

Given that 11 states already have this on the books, I don't think that this would bring higher scrutiny upon Illinois.

Plus consider the following quote from the Forbes article - "Federal authorities, however, have conceded they are unlikely to prosecute many medicinal marijuana users."

 
At January 5, 2006 at 2:09 PM, Anonymous mike noonan said...

I completely agree with john on this issue. It is long past time for some sanity to come to the discussion. I look forward to the day when our friends and relatives who are dying or in chronic pain can smoke their pot wiothout feeling like a criminal.

Free The Weed!

 
At January 5, 2006 at 4:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Legalize it
Don't criticize it
Legalize it
And I will advertise it

Robert Nesta Marley

 
At January 5, 2006 at 9:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When my Mother way dying in the hospital and would no longer eat the doctors gave her marinol, which is a pill form of marijuana, she started eating right after that, I don’t know if it was the “munchies effect” or what but it helped make her life a little more comfortable. I think its ironic that my mother died from smoking cigarettes for 50 years and could have gotten a little relief from smoking pot which is illegal.

 
At January 9, 2006 at 12:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John - This is a little off the subject but what happened to the resolution that was passed about 5 years ago, giving the University of Illinois authority to study hemp production in Illinois? Were any studies ever released from the Univ. of Illinois on this issue? I believe Rep. Lawfer and Rep. Erwin were the main sponsors of the resolution. Hemp would be a great alternative crop for farmers and very environment friendly.. We would never have to cut another tree down again for paper.

 

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