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I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in early 2003. I am also one of the approximately 1,400 registered medical marijuana patients under Colorado's Amendment 20, so I feel that I can offer a unique perspective as to what the government should be doing about medical marijuana.
The human need to seek relief from pain and suffering is a medical issue, not a legal one, and it should be dealt with within the context of the doctor-patient relationship. Congress needs to immediately order the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to stop arresting and prosecuting licensed patients, caregivers, and their providers in the states that have passed medical marijuana laws. Contrary to the 1988 ruling of DEA administrative law judge Francis L. Young, who said “cannabis has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress from great numbers of very ill people, and of doing so with safety under medical supervision,” the DEA continues to deny the medical efficacy of marijuana. Many chronically and terminally ill people, and those who care for them, are treated like violent criminals and drug dealers when their only crime was to seek relief from their pain. Not only is this policy inhumane, it is a tremendous waste of supposedly scarce financial resources. Society is better served when state and local law enforcement agencies are tasked with enforcing the medical marijuana laws of their respective states.
Secondly, Congress needs to order the DEA to quit blocking efforts to reschedule marijuana and allow researchers such as Professor Lyle Craker, Ph.D., at the University of Massachusetts to scientifically study the therapeutic effects of marijuana. Despite efforts by senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry—and despite the opinion of DEA administrative law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner, who said that it “would be in the public interest” to allow Professor Craker to proceed with his research—the DEA continues to stonewall all attempts at any true scientific study of the medicinal properties of cannabis.
Marijuana is a legitimate palliative medicine. It is far superior at treating my symptoms than the pharmaceutical medications that I have been prescribed and far less harmful.