Friday, October 28, 2005

What if the city is the dealer?

It has been a catch-22 for some time now. A number of states have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, and several have made it completely legal for medicinal use. But since Federal law still prohibits the production, transport or sale of marijuana, it requires someone breaking the law before even a legal medicinal user can obtain any. And not surprisingly, those who break the law are often criminals, so that even if someone who has a prescription does buy some, the chances are that their money is going directly to some local, national or international drug ring.

So this week, the city of Santa Cruz, California decided there has to be a better way for local medicinal marijuana users to get their prescriptions filled than standing on a street corners looking for dope peddlers.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. Oct 26, 2005 — The City Council voted to create a department to coordinate the distribution of medical marijuana and vowed to fight federal drug regulators in court to establish it....

The City Council voted 4-2 Tuesday to create an Office of Compassionate Use, a five-member advisory board that would coordinate medical marijuana distribution within the city. User fees would fund the office, which likely would contract with pharmacies for distribution, (mayor) Rotkin said.

California law has allowed medical marijuana use since voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this summer that the federal government can continue to prosecute users.

Now it is true that they intend to seek Federal approval for the office, and so will wait until the outcome of a case going on in San Jose challenging the federal government's right to restrict states from allowing medicinal marijuana use is known.

Nevertheless, this is a step in the right direction. I have seen data which both support and refute the idea that marijuana can reduce the symptoms of diseases like glaucoma and cancer. It may be the equivalent of accupuncture-- in which the state of the mind plays more of a role in healing than anything done to the body, or it may be biochemical and actually directly promote healing. However in either case, those who suffer from these diseases and find relief from the use of marijuana should at least be allowed to alleviate their symptoms.

And, I myself would also not use medicinal marijuana even if I had a need for it because it is against the teachings of the leaders of my church. But what right have I to look into the eyes of a cancer patient wanting relief and tell them they can't have it because of a regulation? Or are we really such a heartless, crass and cruel society that we condemn them to suffer further because of an ideological position?


dorsano said...

I myself would also not use medicinal marijuana

I don't think I would either because I think we have other drugs that are more effective.

But I'm becomming more and more inclined each day to legalize, regulate and tax just about every "vice" there is and use it to fund treatment programs and after school programs for kids.

Anonymous said...

As a personal note, I HAVE looked into the eyes of several cancer patients desperately wanting relief. I even had to throw down the gauntlet and challenge a nurse when she told me it "wasn't time" for my f-i-l to get his pain meds, (morphine coctail) because "he might become addicted."

"The man is terminal...who the HELL cares if he gets addicted? You give him his pain meds NOW because he is in severe pain NOW, or you get the g/d doctor on the phone NOW so he can explain this cruelty to me," I said.

She followed me back down the hall with the pain meds.

Yes, we really are such a heartless, crass and cruel society that we condemn them to suffer further because of an ideological position.

jen said...

great piece, Eli, as always! thank you for your deep thoughts!

dorsano said...

we really are such a heartless, crass and cruel

I don't think that collectively we're heartless and cruel

In the case of the "addiction" argument, whether it's for morphine or antibiotics or whatever, some people just need to be reminded to step back, look at the big picture and apply some common sense.

In other cases, I think people lack the language to discuss their concenrns and issues of the day and have to resort to what they hear in the mainstream media which is manipulated by many special interests

and the political leadership in both parties is less than ideal.

Anonymous said...

Dorsano, perhaps it would have been better said that "we" are dealing with a heartless, crass and cruel society. In my f-i-l's case, he was in the very final stages and passed just two weeks later. I see absolutely no sense to making someone suffering needlessly in their final days. Nor was he the only one whose "death with dignity" I had to speak up for.

In regards to the point of Eli's post, which I strayed from, I most certainly do support the use of medical marijuana to relieve patient suffering. I'm all for seeing to the patient's needs.

Mr. Mack said...

Or are we really such a heartless, crass and cruel society that we condemn them to suffer further because of an ideological position?