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.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.
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.
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.