If a medically safe solution is available to ease the suffering of people with debilitating or terminal illnesses, then why shouldn't the state allow its use?
That's the question the state Legislature should be asking itself as it considers approval of the Compassionate Care Act, a bill allowing very limited use of marijuana for medical purposes.
The bill (A.6357), which passed the state Assembly on Tuesday, allows for the possession and use of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana by seriously ill patients. The patients must receive medical certification and register with the state Health Department in order to receive the marijuana treatment.
The bill is layered with provisions to discourage illegal use and distribution.
The state Health Department would register organizations to legally dispense the drug, which would have to be purchased from a registered, secure, indoor growing facility. Those who dispense or obtain the drug illegally would be subject to a felony charge.
Among the many conditions from which patients may obtain relief from medical marijuana under the law are cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, epilepsy, cachexia, wasting syndrome, Crohn's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, arthritis, lupus and diabetes.
Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia currently have passed some form of medical marijuana law, the latest being Minnesota.
This is no flimsy attempt to legalize recreational marijuana, as Colorado and Washington state have done. This is no slippery slope. The purpose of this bill is to provide legitimate medicine, with sound scientific and medical evidence behind it, to people who are suffering.
How can any state legislator deprive someone of that?
The Assembly has done its job. We now urge the Senate to take up the bill and to pass it.