Medical Marijuana

When the Wrong Message Is the Right Message

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Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell will soon receive a bill that would allow people with certain "debilitating" medical conditions to grow marijuana with a doctor's recommedation. The bill has passed both houses of the state legislature and will become law automatically 15 days after arriving on Rell's desk if she neither signs nor vetoes it. "In the past," says the governor's spokesman, "she has been sympathetic to helping the terminally ill and those with debilitating symptoms find relief, but she would frankly prefer to see the policy change at the federal level since it is a chronic problem for any state that takes up the issue."

The New York Times quotes a Republican legislator who anxiously bought marijuana for her husband (at his doctor's recommendation) when he was dying from bone cancer and a Democrat who used to oppose the medical use of marijuana but changed her mind after watching two cousins die from cancer. By contrast, "State Senator John McKinney, a Republican from Southport whose father, a congressman, died of AIDS in 1987, expressed sympathy for people with debilitating illnesses" but "said that supporting the bill would be 'sending the wrong message,' one that marijuana is not a bad drug."

In a sense, McKinney's concern is silly, since drugs are not inherently good or bad; it's the use to which they're put that matters. Even drug warriors implicitly acknowledge that point, approving the use of morphine, say, to relieve cancer pain but not to relieve psychological stress. Then again, I hope McKinney is right to worry that the safe and beneficial use of marijuana by seriously ill people will undermine the government's anti-pot propaganda by showing that concerns about the drug's hazards are greatly exaggerated. To the extent that drug prohibition depends on the demonization of chemicals, which are arbitrarily assigned to "good" and "bad"categories, any positive use of a proscribed substance, whether medical, psychotherapeutic, or religious, has the potential to advance the broader cause of drug policy reform.

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  1. “In the past,” says the governor’s spokesman, “she has been sympathetic to helping the terminally ill and those with debilitating symptoms find relief, but she would frankly prefer to see the policy change at the federal level since it is a chronic problem for any state that takes up the issue.”

    no pun intended, of course

  2. “said that supporting the bill would finaly be ‘sending the wrong right message,’ one that marijuana is not a bad drug.”

    fixed

  3. “Baaaaaad drug! Baaaad drug! I’m not letting you in the house until you learn to pee outside!”

  4. To fine-tune Jacob’s point, a talking counter-point for the state senator:

    “Yes, sticking a fellow soldier who has fallen on the battlefield with a morphine injection would be sending the wrong message…”

  5. “said that supporting the bill would be ‘sending the right message,’ one that marijuana is a good drug.”

    double fixed

  6. The governor would prefer to see the policy change at the federal level. How nice, she doesn’t have to take a stand or show leadership or be controversial, she can wait for the feds to deal with it.

    Too bad, baby, they did, and they got it wrong. Now show some backbone and either sign it, veto it, or get the hell out of the way.

  7. NeonCat, I had the same thought, then remembered all the trouble people get into doing something perfectly legal in their state that the feds feel the need to interfere with. The governor is sadly correct – as it stands now, things need to be changed at a federal level. But they won’t unless the states keep passing legalization laws. Drug warriors are probably really happy about that conundrum.

  8. Now show some backbone and either sign it, veto it, or get the hell out of the way.

    HA HA HA HA HA HA!

    Whoops. Sorry. That was rude. I wasn’t laughing at you, NeonCat.

    Well, actually, I guess I was. But it’s not your fault. It’s just that your phrase “show some backbone” is really, really funny to anyone who lives in Connecticut and knows the governor in question.

    Snigger.

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