I really enjoyed this piece by David Borden and Paul Armentano (recently posted in the Huffington Post): Why Do People the Government Says Don’t Exist Keep Writing Us?
Speaking last month to the Associated Press, Tom Riley — spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy — launched into an all too common ad hominem attack against medical marijuana and those who advocate for its regulation. “There is a charade going on here,” he charged. “[P]eople who are interested in drug legalization using genuinely sick people as pawns to get sympathy to get their agenda through.”
This critique bemuses us. After all, we actually know medical marijuana patients — yes, real live medical marijuana patients. We interact with them at conferences. We help them organize protests. Some of us lobby with them in Congress or the state houses. Others help coordinate their legal defenses when they’ve been arrested. Many of them are our friends and colleagues too. Sure, we also want legalization, not just for medical use. But while the drug war continues to rage, we desire to have the sick and dying taken off the battlefield. Who wouldn’t?
And that last point is important. Prohibitionists (and sometimes their academic enablers) have often tried to argue that since people like us want marijuana legalized for recreational purposes, then we can’t be believed when we argue for medical marijuana legalization — that we’re only taking advantage of the sick by using them for our purposes. How absurd!
First, it is certainly possible (and quite likely) for people to sincerely hold both the opinion that patients should be allowed to use marijuana for medical purposes and that people in general should be allowed to use marijuana for recreational purposes.
Second, how are you taking advantage of sick people by wanting them to have the right to choose medicine that helps them and is recommended by their doctor?
Third, the only ones cruelly taking advantage of the sick are the people like Tom Riley, who would deny patients the medicine that helps them, who would tell patients that they can’t follow the recommendations of their doctor, who would have people suffer in order to prop up marijuana prohibition.