With the release of a National poll indicating that nearly three quarters of Americans believe that the Federal Government should respect states’ medical marijuana laws, and the election of two major supporters of medical marijuana laws there seems to be a strong consensus that the Federal government should halt its attacks on medical marijuana facilities. This evidence reflects a seismic national shift in political attitudes that has occurred in the years since California first legalized medical marijuana in 1996. The erosion of the ironclad position to keep marijuana illegal under any circumstance has given way to mounting scientific evidence showing that marijuana has useful medical qualities. Due to this shift in social norms, laws outlawing medical marijuana use are becoming less and less enforceable.
In Oregon, Ellen Rosenblum won a sweeping victory in the state’s primary election for Attorney General. Rosenblum and her opponent held the same views on consumer protection, civil rights, and the environment, but differed in their stance on medical marijuana laws. Rosenblum’s supportive stance on medical marijuana propelled her to victory. The race was the first where the outcome was determined by the candidates’ stance regarding medical marijuana. Rosenblum’s stance helped her overcome a severe campaign funding disadvantage and helped her capture an electoral victory.
In El Paso, Texas, the voters ousted eight term democratic congressman Silvestre Reyes due, in part, to his firm stance against legalization. He was beaten in the primary by Beto O’Rourke who supports legalization and protection of medical marijuana rights. Reyes focused his campaign on attacking O’Rourke’s past advocacy for legalization of medical marijuana. However, his plan backfired as El Paso voters took to the polls and endorsed O’Rourke and his stance in support of medical marijuana.
New York saw one of the most surprising endorsements of medical marijuana use as State Supreme Court Justice Gustin L. Reichbach, who is suffering from the terrible scourge that is pancreatic cancer, recently wrote an op-ed article describing his medical marijuana use. That such a ringing endorsement of the medical qualities of THC would come from a well respected and influential member of the judiciary is quite surprising. However, Justice Reichbach sums up the issue quite eloquently and succinctly by stating, “This is not a law-and-order issue; it is a medical and a human rights issue. Being treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, I am receiving the absolute gold standard of medical care. But doctors cannot be expected to do what the law prohibits, even when they know it is in the best interests of their patients. When palliative care is understood as a fundamental human and medical right, marijuana for medical use should be beyond controversy.”
Justice Reichbach is correct is asserting the medical and human rights issues that the prohibition of medical marijuana presents. However, his assertion that this is not a law and order issue is incorrect. Until state legislature and the Federal Government listen to the public outcry in support of medical marijuana cancer patients and others who’s suffering could be lessened by the medicinal use of marijuana will be forced to break the law in order to find respite from what ails them. Instead of listening to modern medical and scientific findings, opponents of the legalization of medical marijuana would rather fall back on tradition, myth, and bunk science. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy recently signed a bill allowing his state’s sick citizens access to medical marijuana, making it the seventeenth in the country to legalize marijuana for medical use. Now that over one third of the state in country have voted to help stop the suffering of their sick, we can only hope that the other two thirds quickly follow suit.
As the public’s perception of marijuana changes and more studies are released touting its medicinal qualities, laws prohibiting its use seem particularly antiquated and out of step with societal norms and medical views. Laws that a majority of the public do not support cannot be viable or enforced. The Federal Government’s insistence on attacking the medical marijuana industry ignores the facts and is out of touch with current social views. The antiquated view that marijuana is a dangerous narcotic and a plague upon this country has been proved false by countless scientific studies. Doctors routinely prescribe drugs much more dangerous, and much less effective, than marijuana. It is time for this country to come to the aid of our sick and suffering, to unshackle medical doctors’ ability to prescribe medicine that will lessen their patients suffering. As long as marijuana is illegal patients will be forced to obtain it through illegal and sometimes dangerous means. It is time to take a long look at the medicinal marijuana issue, follow the scientific data and reach the only logical conclusion, that marijuana should be legalized for medical use.