I was really disheartened to see that state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez continues to block relief to some of his most hurting constituents and, for that matter, the entire state. (“Sanchez to halt medical pot bill,” Jan. 20.)
One of my close friends has been suffering with cancer for years; his pain management is greatly complicated due to contraindications with the many drugs he needs to take for secondary conditions. His doctors have told him they would definitely prescribed medical marijuana for pain management, anti-nausea and appetite improvement as soon as it’s legalized in the state because of its efficacy and lack of interference with the rest of his necessary medical regimen. But for now, tough. My friend continues to suffer. He’s not willing to buy pot on the street, nor is he even able to walk down the street.
Because of Rep. Sánchez’s unwillingness to be a little more courageous on this issue, many remain in pain. And our representative doesn’t even have to lead the way. Presently, almost one-third of our country (16 out of 50 states—32 percent) has legalized medical marijuana.
A recent Gallup poll found that medical marijuana legalization is supported by a majority of independent voters, a majority of people in Western states, a majority of people in Eastern states, a majority of people in the Midwest, and 44 percent of Americans in Southern states. Again, 16 states and the District of Columbia have already legalized medical marijuana, which is used to treat nausea and pain in such diseases as cancer and AIDS. Fourteen states have decriminalized marijuana for personal use. And two states (Washington and Colorado) could vote on legalizing and regulating marijuana like alcohol in November of 2012. But, Sánchez told the Gazette, he remains concerned about how those laws conflict with the federal ban on pot.
It is clear that federal law needs to be updated to allow states to go their own way and do what is best for their citizens without fear of federal intervention. A bill filed in Congress, H.R. 2306, repeals federal marijuana prohibition in a way similar to the repeal of alcohol Prohibition. The federal government would stop interfering in states that choose to regulate marijuana instead of prohibiting it, while making it illegal to transport marijuana into a state that prohibits it. The bill has been sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank and has 20 co-sponsors, including our congressman, Michael Capuano. (Big thanks to both of them!)
But we in Massachusetts need to do our part to keep the ball rolling toward a more enlightened marijuana policy. This means that we need to add one more state, our state, to the list of those that support compassion, common knowledge and common sense on this issue. Instead, one state representative is leaving our Commonwealth in the dust.
To continue hearing concerns over the federal ban on marijuana, in light of all the progress throughout the United States, is, here in Massachusetts, unbelievable! What is the real reason for this head-in-the-sand approach?
Andrea Cherez, Jamaica Plain