The Marijuana Policy Project reports that Vermont will soon be the ninth state to allow medical use of marijuana. The state legislature recently passed a bill that would allow patients with AIDS, cancer, and multiple sclerosis to possess or grow cannabis, and yesterday Republican Gov. James Douglas announced that he will allow the bill to become law without his signature. The statement he issued is a study in pusillanimous waffling:
Marijuana is addictive, and dangerous, and as a gateway drug can ruin a young Vermonter's life. Over the last several months, the faces of Vermonters in real pain have advocated for the use of marijuana for symptom relief. They are the husbands and wives who nursed dying spouses in their final days; they are sons and daughters who watched once-healthy parents wither and waste away. I feel, as most Vermonters do, that we must do what we can to ease the pain of dying Vermonters. I believe that we owe Vermonters with debilitating medical conditions the very best that medical science has to offer. Proven science has not demonstrated that marijuana is a part of that. Despite that fact, marijuana offers those with the most painful chronic diseases a measure of hope in a time of suffering….However, I cannot actively support a measure that allows Vermonters to be subject to prosecution under federal law, increases the availability of a controlled substance, and sends a dangerous message to our children.
By his own account, Douglas is allowing enactment of a law he thinks is bad policy so that sick people can have false hope. That way he won't be accused of standing between patients and the drug that relieves their suffering. At the same time, he's not actually signing the bill, so he retains his credentials as a tough drug warrior.