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February 2006
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Thinking about Medical Marijuana

My thoughts are with the Illinois Senate committee hearing on medical marijuana. I attended the hearings last year, when Walters swooped down to put the lowly state Senators in their place, causing them to vote against their own people. I’m hoping for better results this time, but if not… It won’t go away. And eventually we will win. Unfortunately, in the meantime, people will needlessly suffer.

This reminds me that I’ve neglected to discuss the situation in New Mexico. After the Senate overwhelmingly passed the medical marijuana bill with a strong rebuke to the Drug Czar’s office for meddling with state affairs, pressure was put on the New Mexico House, which sent the bill to the Agriculture and Water Resources Committee to die. Which it did.

Drug War cheerleader Steven Steiner (founder of DAMADD) went all the way from New York to New Mexico to campaign against the notion of sick people getting medicine. This is the guy whose son died from crushing and snorting Oxycontin, and I have a tendency to say “Hey, you do what you need to do to deal with that tragedy,” but I also can’t help noticing that his actions are somewhat akin to me losing a child to cancer and then flying to Alaska to campaign for mandatory helmets for adults riding a bike.

Of course Steiner has crafted a justification:

“There’s no doubt in my mind that marijuana is a gateway drug.”

Which is all that’s important to Steiner. What’s in his mind. Not things like, uh, science, or evidence, since all studies have debunked the gateway theory. And it’s kind of hard to explain the gateway theory to the, oh, 96 million people or so who have used marijuana and didn’t go on to use other illegal drugs. And when sick people don’t have access to medicine, then they can just console themselves with the notion that at least Steiner’s mind is comforted.

Of course, there’s also one other little thing that’s important to Steiner. His bankbook.

According to DAMADD’s Web site, Perdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, is a sponsor of the organization.

Several other large pharmaceutical companies, including Jannsen, Bristol-Meyers, Roche, Alpharma, UCB, Endo, Cephalon, Teva and Boehringer Ingelheim, also support DAMADD. “Big (pharmaceuticals), they see what’s happening,” Steiner said. “They gave us funding unrestricted.”

…the industry — which contributed more than $97,000 to New Mexico political campaigns in 2002 and more than $56,000 in 2004 — stands to lose money if marijuana became a free and legal treatment.

Yeah, we get the sordid, sick picture.

Dare Generation Diary and D’Alliance Blog have been covering this, and Steiner showed up to gloat:

I call it how I see it and the DPA is nothing more than a left wing organization trying to legalize drugs in our country and unfortunately using anyone than can including sick and dying people to further their agenda against the drug war and marijuana prohibition.

Ah, now we see the true colors. Notice the use of the words “left-wing”? As I’ve noted many times here, drug policy reform is not a left or right issue. Some of the strongest support for reform is from conservatives, who don’t believe in higher taxes to pay for the enormous costs of prohibition, and who don’t favor big government, and who believe in personal responsibility. Yet Steiner is trying to turn it into a partisan debate, just like Souder’s objection to the CPAC sessions.

Additionally, Steiner uses the most intellectually dishonest argument when he says that reformers “use” sick people to further an agenda. Let’s compare how he and I use sick people.

  • Me: In order to further my agenda, I want to make it possible for sick people, with a doctor’s recommendation, and under guidelines set forth by the state, to use marijuana (a substance that has never killed anyone and is very mild in its dependence potential) if they feel it would help them. I would not require anyone to use it.
  • Steiner: In order to further my agenda, I want to prohibit sick people from using marijuana, regardless of their condition, regardless of what their doctor says, (and I personally don’t think it’s a medicine regardless of what science says), even if it causes them pain, suffering, or death. And if they do use it, I want them thrown in jail at taxpayer expense, where they will then get more expensive drugs paid for by the taxpayers.

Yes, we’re both using sick people. Why don’t we ask the sick people whether they’d rather be used by me or by Steiner.

[Thanks, J, for the tip]

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