Friday, January 30, 2009

Two things Obama could do on medical marijuana

Debra J. Saunders is a conservative columnist for the EssEffChron. I usually make it about two sentences into her columns, but this time she's right.

During the campaign, President Obama said he would stop federal raids of medical marijuana clubs in states (like California) that had passed medical-marijuana laws. Yet federal agents raided medical-marijuana dispensaries, including the Patient-to-Patient Collective in South Lake Tahoe, two days after his inauguration. The Tahoe Daily Tribune reported that agents seized between 5 and 10 pounds of marijuana.

Not namin' names here, but that's about a week's supply for...(smiley face with dilated pupils, silly grin, sawdust and grease, Twinkie crumbs and a Noo Yawk accent)

So will Obama keep his word by directing federal drug agents to concentrate on going after drug kingpins instead of sick people?

I understand that Obama has bigger issues on his plate, which probably is why the White House has yet to respond to my Tuesday query. That said, this issue is vital to many Californians with health problems.

Item No. 2 for the Marijuana Policy Project: In the closing week of Bushdom, the Drug Enforcement Administration rejected Administrative Law Judge Ellen Bittner's decision to allow the University of Massachusetts to grow marijuana for medical research. Until now, only the University of Mississippi has filled that role - and not well, according to critics.

Again, the Bush-DEA's action undermined the position of the incoming administration. Obama also told the Mail Tribune, "I think the basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors - I think that's entirely appropriate."

Obama is right. Some doctors believe that marijuana has properties - it can ease pain, is an anti-inflammatory and stimulates appetite - beneficial to patients with AIDS, glaucoma and muscular dystrophy and other chronic diseases, as well as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

You could understand the institute's opposition to these projects if marijuana were a rare and lethal drug. But it is impossible to take a lethal dose, and marijuana is so prevalent that a 2005 National Drug Threat Assessment reported that, in some areas, marijuana seems "easier for youths to obtain than alcohol or cigarettes."

To the extent that federal officials have been slow to approve medical marijuana research, you have to believe that their biggest fear was that the research would be successful. That's right, it might help people in pain. (my em)

Obama has made much of his commitment to "restore science to its rightful place." Here's his chance.

Debra's absolutely right for once. Shorter: Stop the federal power plays against voter-approved state laws they don't like, and do real research that may result in scientific evidence the feds and Big Pharma may not like.

The third thing Obama could do, and this is from me, is to grant pardons to anyone who is in prison solely on possession of marijuana charges stemming from federal raids on legal pot dispensaries.

Weed should be legal. Period. Medical marijuana use is totally legitimate and is a foot in the door.

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