There is ample evidence that smoked marijuana can save lives. It eases nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy and other crippling treatments and helps mitigate the effects of AIDS wasting and glaucoma. There also is ample evidence that with the vast majority of users, marijuana is not a so-called gateway drug that leads them to hard drugs like cocaine and heroin.And so there was a dreary familiarity about the negative reaction to a new study that found recovering drug addicts infected with the hepatitis C virus are more likely to stick to their medication regimens if they are allowed to use marijuana.
Yet the Federal Drug Administration and Drug Enforcement Administration continue to oppose any use of medical marijuana , including in the eleven states that have legalized its use as a result of voter initiatives, and assert that it has no benefits whatsoever.
Beyond the Bush administration's efforts to substitute junk science for the real thing, there is another aspect of the debate that trips my hypocrisy trigger:
Cigarettes, alcohol, abused pain killers and other medications take hundreds of thousands of American lives each year and the cost of treating the millions of people addicted to those substances runs into the tens of billions of dollars.
But I have yet to hear of a single person who packed in because they smoked pot.
GETTING PERSONALI have a very personal stake in all of this -- a family member and a deceased friend. Both found that the pain from their decades long debilitating conditions was measurably eased because of marijuana.
Then there was my father, who is standing with my mother in the photo above. That's not a marijuana cigarette that he's holding, but:
After my father -- addicted to nicotine for his entire adult life -- began chemotherapy for late-stage lung cancer many years ago, I made arrangements to have a little package of marijuana cigarettes sent to my mother. She stored them in the Frigidaire and doled them out to my father when his chemo-induced nausea was especially awful.
My father died before he had hardly made a dent in the package, but the cigarettes were a great source of relief for this gentle man who wouldn't hurt a soul but was then -- and still would be considered now -- a criminal by the government of his beloved country.