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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

March, 2008


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"Unfortunately I Will Not Be Supporting Your Efforts To Make Marijuana Legal Alternative Medicine"
By Jacqueline Patterson

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted on a resolution last week condemning the Drug Enforcement Administration for the threatening letters that were sent to the landlords of medical cannabis dispensaries all across California; personally, I've got to hand it to the DEA, those sneaky rascals finally conjured up an effective inexpensive plan to rid California of many of its "distribution centers", their term for what rational and compassionate people call "medical cannabis dispensaries" but what's in a name, right? The point is that while this tactic has been by far the DEA's most successful strategy, it will have no lasting impact on medical cannabis in California.
Not only does the DEA lack the resources to actually follow upon the potentially illegal threat to relieve landlords of their assets, but the distribution of said letters drew the attention of many members of Congress who are already impatiently awaiting the DEA's response as to why they will not reschedule the herb so that doctors and scientists may research the potential for therapeutic use of cannabis and its compounds.

Alice O'Leary, widow of the first man to receive his cannabis from the federal government, says that if cannabis didn't carry the stigma attached to it today, if it was an unknown plant found in some far away rainforest, it would hailed as a medical miracle. Research shows that cannabis and/or certain compounds in the plant retard tumors, slow the progression of Alzheimer's, protect the brain in the event of a stroke, and even combat cancer despite the DEA's maliciously unfounded stance on the issue. And they have the nerve to call us criminals.

The simple truth of the matter is that the DEA will never shut down medical cannabis in California just as they will never dismantle the black market that supplies truly dangerous hard drugs to millions of miserable American addicts; the difference is that the medical cannabis debate has displaced governmental authority and created a potential crash for the revenue streams of local and national law enforcement, especially in the Midwest.

Drug dealers feed off of the desperation and hopelessness that creates the destructive product niche whereas cannabis patient collectives overgrow the government with truth, radiant beauty, and compassion.

In San Francisco's grossly underprivileged Tenderloin district, few businesses make improving the community a top priority, but in December, when Sanctuary owner, Michael Welch, found that he had a little money left over after paying rent subsidies for many of the dispensary's low-income patients, he spread a little Christmas cheer to the residents who live above the shop and right now, he is busy developing two new programs: one to help homeless families transition to stability and the other to offer treatment that compliments cannabis therapy.

One of the biggest problems for a medical cannabis patient is that proponents often identify the herb as a cure-all while opponents do everything in their power to further stigmatize persons living with disabilities or diseases who choose to empower their lives and their health with the use of this nontoxic plant; these patients, even here in California, become reluctant to discuss this particular treatment with their healthcare providers and families so cannabis never really is fully integrated into the patient's disability/disease maintenance regimen.

This breakdown in transition from theory to practice enables small-minded Republicans such as Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton to defend his refusal to place Missouri's medical cannabis bill into committee with this statement:

"Unfortunately I will not be supporting your efforts to make cannabis a legal alternative medicine this year. I certainly feel for the pain of the people you mention in your letter, however, I am not convinced that there is no other medicine or treatment available to alleviate their pain other than an illegal drug. We should be doing all we can to eradicate this harmful drug that has done much to poison the youth of our state not trying to make it more easily available."

What Representative Jetton may or may not know is that a man much like himself breathed life into Missouri's medical cannabis movement. A legislator by the name of Ronnie DePasco inspired the first medical cannabis bill in Missouri; he was one of Missouri's most vocal supporters of cannabis prohibition until he had to do his time in the cancer ward.

I doubt, as devoted to the law as he was that he ever used cannabis, but he did see that the herb effectively relieved the suffering of his chemotherapy comrades and a bill was introduced the following year and the year after that and after that.

I lobbied and testified when the bill got into committee and I made every effort to educate my neighbors and local doctors, as have many advocates in Missouri so what we have now is a (mostly) great bill in the hands of a really misinformed man who has demonstrated his desire to remain ignorant on this issue.

I represent a patient who gave birth to her little girl in prison because after trying several dangerous pharmaceuticals to control a nasty case of bipolar, she discovered that cannabis helped her lead a full and happy life. She's ostracized from the mainstream community of her small town and on indefinite parole because cannabis prohibition creates revenue for the state of Missouri. Another would-be patient would love to give her son a sibling but would never survive pregnancy without cannabis and already experienced the fear of losing her first child to the court system; I'm morally obligated to do everything in my power to afford them access to the same freedom and holistic health that I enjoy in California.

The DEA's landlord letters have generated discussion of city and county run collectives, which seems quite unlikely given California's saturated cannabis market but in states, such as Missouri or Michigan, where patients can only pray that compassionate legislation passes into law, such a design would enable the state to not only research the medical application of cannabis using the individual study method recently recommended by the American College of Physicians in their paper supporting therapeutic cannabis, but also to reevaluate current drug education and make the modifications that will truly help end teenage drug abuse.




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