Is Pot Medicine?
Medical Marijuana Gains Momentum
Mention marijuana and we invariably flash back to the Woodstock days of long-haired hippies smoking joints and getting high.
Or we recall all those anti-drug messages we’ve grown up with, accented by DARE classes in school. Marijuana, we’re told incessantly, is illegal and not good for us.
And that’s true – mostly.
Momentum is growing in Wisconsin for legalizing so-called “medical marijuana.” Some lawmakers argue it is humane to allow people suffering from certain medical conditions, such as cancer, to obtain marijuana with a doctor’s prescription as a means of pain relief.
Opponents say legal medications already available preclude the need for legalizing a substance long banned because of its negative effects. Legalizing medical marijuana also could increase black-market activity in the drug, opponents claim.
There’s nothing new in those arguments. They’re basically the same ones each state deals with as it considers the question. Thirteen states have legalized medical marijuana, and Wisconsin may be next in line.
State Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, and state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee, have sponsored a bill making medical marijuana legal with a doctor’s prescription. The pot could be grown at home or obtained through a licensed, nonprofit dispensary. The state would keep a registry of those who can receive and dispense marijuana.
We don’t have a problem with medical marijuana per se, but there are potential pitfalls in legalizing the drug for any reason. The largest is in regulating who can obtain marijuana.
What health conditions would qualify? Would the state monitor who is prescribing and using the marijuana, and how often? What penalties would be established for abuses?
These are not insurmountable issues.
Political bickering might be, however. Gov. Jim Doyle is a proponent of legalizing marijuana for medical use, and conservative Republicans are sure to align against the Democratic proposal when it comes up for a hearing Dec. 15 and a possible vote early next year.
A similar bill was defeated in the Legislature in 2002.
All we as citizens can hope for is a civil debate on the issue, and that lawmakers vote their conscience, not necessarily their party.
Source: Herald Times Reporter (Manitowoc, WI)
Copyright: 2009 Herald Times Reporter