After a few days of letting it sink in that Proposal 1 did pass, I am ready to talk about it.
First, I am really happy that the voters in Michigan took this important step in aiding their neighbors by giving them an alternative to drugs to help combat pain and suffering. Use of a natural product rather than a man-made one is always preferrable.
Michigan now has 10 days to verify the results of the vote, and then 120 days to put it all into action. My advice to the residents of Michigan?
Don’t screw this up. Proposal 1 still has a group of folks who did not want it to pass, and that group of folks includes people in law enforcement. Do not screw this up.
We, in Pennsylvania are working for what you just voted for. We want to use your success to help our citizens who are suffering. Here is an article written by Derek Rosenzweig:
Smoke Blowing in the Winds of Change
By Derek Rosenzweig, PhillyNORML – 11/5/2008
With the astounding victory this 2008 Election of Barack Obama and Democrats in the House and Senate, the people of the United States have stood up to re-claim the American Dream. For decades the world has seen us as a beacon of hope and opportunity, but the last eight years have marred that image for many. Now the time has come for our country to prioritize and set a new course.
Massachusetts’ and Michigan’s voters had the chance to show where their priorities lie by voting on ballot initiatives which would liberalize marijuana policies. In Massachusetts, citizens voted over 65% to decriminalize possession of an ounce or under of cannabis, making it punishable only by a civil fine of $100. In Michigan, voters decided 60% – 40% to allow sick and dying patients to cultivate and use marijuana under their doctor’s care.
Over the last few months I’ve spoken with dozens of patients throughout Pennsylvania who suffer from ailments including chronic pain from a botched surgery, obsessive compulsive disorder, severe arthritis, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, and other conditions. Some of these patients are on disability and can’t work. All of them are on all sorts of medications, often times to the level that it incapacitates them or simply doesn’t give them the relief they need. Then they take one or two puffs on a joint and it brings them almost immediate relief.
Pennsylvanians have, for the most part, long taken a rational view of how to deal with the problems that we face collectively. Now that we as a nation start to walk in a new direction, we as a Commonwealth must do the same thing. Our citizens – our friends, loved ones, co-workers – deserve the chance to live their lives with dignity and self respect, but for many of the patients I spoke to that simply isn’t the case right now. The condition their medications put them in precludes a normal life. For these people the simple fact that medical marijuana actually helps their lives become bearable makes it an easy choice to use it. From a medical standpoint, marijuana has huge potential as a medicine, it’s safer to use than most pharmaceuticals, and its side effects (ie, the high) are well within tolerance limits.
The problem for them is how are they getting it, and what are the potential consequences of illegally obtaining and using this drug as a medicine. For some, it can mean getting fired from a job (and losing health benefits) for testing positive on a urine test, and for others it could mean they’re severely unlucky and get arrested. Depending what they get caught with they could be in jail for 30 days or 5 years. Some ailments require a large amount of cannabis to effectively treat, and under our current laws that amounts to a potential death sentence. We have to be better than this.
That’s why it’s so important that this Commonwealth takes the advice of the voters in Michigan and allows our friends, loved ones, and co-workers to use marijuana as medicine under the care of their doctor. Thirteen states – over 25% of our nations’ citizens – now have the right to use cannabis under state law, and President-elect Obama has publicly stated numerous times that those patients in medical-marijuana states will not have to fear Federal interference during his administration. Until the Federal government changes marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 drug, Pennsylvania must create its own system of legal cultivation and distribution so that doctors can legally – and without worry of losing their license – prescribe or recommend cannabis to a patient. Pennsylvanians for Medical Marijuana, along with PhillyNORML and the Marijuana Policy Project, are working together to introduce a bill in the General Assembly which would do just that. It’s the least we can do to show where our priorities lie.
Comment at our online forum at http://www.phillynorml.org/forum/index.php?action=post;topic=548
- Derek Rosenzweig