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It's Time To Admit The Good Side


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Source: Providence Journal, The (RI)
Author: Bob Kerr
Published: Friday, August 6, 2004
Copyright: 2004 The Providence Journal Company
Contact: [email protected]

People with multiple sclerosis use it to get through the day. So do people with AIDS, cancer and posttraumatic stress disorder. People trying to break their addiction to alcohol turn to it when they feel they can't make it through the next two minutes without a drink.

Doctors recommend it, although they can't prescribe it. And some police who arrest people for it admit that their time could be better spent.

It helps some people in ways that are not totally explained. But those who suffer don't need explanations. They need relief. So they make a connection and buy marijuana and break the law. They put their stash in a safe place that's easy to get to when the pain, fear or anxiety closes in.

Waging war on hard drugs might still be justifiable but the war on marijuana seems a waste of time and effort.

As long as marijuana is kept in the great grab bag of illegal drugs and not considered a fairly benign substance with the potential to help ill people, it will continue to claim time and money and resources that could be best used elsewhere.

And it will continue to be called on as some kind of moral barometer by those who still subscribe to the laughable Reefer Madness view of its mind altering power.

Even now, people running for public office will be asked if they ever smoked it. It is a pointless question that has nothing to do with character. It indicates little more than whether a candidate has led a normal life and dealt with normal temptations.

Bill Clinton's idiotic line about trying it but not inhaling only adds to marijuana's ability to bring out the silly and the absurd on the campaign trail, as well as other places.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating recreational pot use in the sixth grade. Dealing drugs, even marijuana, to children is a low-down thing to do.

The Burrillville police apparently did a great job with an undercover investigation into drug dealing aimed at high school students. They busted nine people and confiscated the usual stuff -- cash, cars, bags of marijuana, scales.

The police say the investigation is ongoing. It will probably take more people out of circulation who should be out of circulation.

But the bust won't change much except, perhaps, the local price structure.

There was an interesting letter to the editor in The Journal yesterday from an intriguingly named reader in Mesa, Ariz., Kirk Muse. He was responding to another marijuana bust in another town when he wrote "Without marijuana busts, marijuana would be worth what other easy-to-grow weeds are worth -- very little.

"Thanks to the Drug Enforcement Administration and other 'drug warriors,' the easy-to-grow weed is worth more than pure gold -- and completely tax free. The marijuana users or sellers arrested will soon be replaced; they always are."

I get the feeling Mr. Muse writes a lot of letters to editors about marijuana, but he is right. Marijuana has been made a cash crop because the war on drugs demands that it be portrayed as entirely bad, a gateway drug to harder, meaner stuff. Its ability to help sick people is ignored because that only blurs the hard-hitting message.

It doesn't make any sense. Marijuana should be separated from hard drugs and controlled in a way that would make it available to ease some pain.

Then people I know with MS and posttraumatic stress disorder would not have to worry about getting caught in the random bust on their way home from buying the one thing that gets them through the day.

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