Patients Deserve Choice

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Connecticut House Bill HB 6715: An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana decriminalizes marijuana as a therapy "to alleviate a qualifying patient's symptoms of...debilitating medical conditions (such as) cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, epilepsy, cachexia or wasting syndrome."

The passage of this bill will count Connecticut among 12 other states in no longer disallowing competent adult patients from choosing marijuana as a medical therapy for themselves. Many non-governmental medical organizations support the medical use of marijuana, believing patients and their physicians should be trusted to decide whether the patient will benefit from the therapy.

Since individual liberty is both universally beneficial and paramount to a free society, libertarian-minded people believe every individual may choose what medical treatments are appropriate for themselves, preferably in consultation with an educated adviser, such as a physician. Thusly, we all bear the responsibility for making our own medical and health decisions. Unfortunately, HB 6715 requires "written certification ... signed by the qualifying patient's physician stating that, in such physician's professional opinion, the qualifying patient has a debilitating medical condition and the potential benefits of the palliative use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks of such use to the qualifying patient," and requires the patient to present this information to the state Department of Public Health, as well as pay a fee.

Despite nearly 80 percent support among the American people for the decriminalizing of medical marijuana, the federal government continues to wage war against legitimate medical marijuana patients. In 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 6-3 that the federal government may continue to arrest and prosecute sick and terminally ill Americans who use marijuana for medical purposes. Justice Clarence Thomas in a brilliant and rational dissent argued "if Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything -- and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers...the Court abandons any attempt to enforce the Constitution's limits on federal power ... If the Federal Government can regulate growing a half-dozen cannabis plants for personal consumption (not because it is interstate commerce, but because it is inextricably bound up with interstate commerce), then Congress' Article I powers ... have no meaningful limits."

Personal right

The reality is many seriously ill patients already make the personal choice to use marijuana as a therapy, regardless of the law and its consequences. Currently, the FDA infringes upon our right to self-ownership by denying our use of non-FDA-approved therapies, as manufacturers are not allowed to distribute them.

Libertarians see no distinction between this infringement on our individual liberty than the recently publicized examples of government authoritarianism: property seizure, NSA warrantless spying and the new mandatory national ID. While FDA approval standards help to ensure the safety and efficacy of health products, persons should be free to opt out and utilize therapies and dietary supplements not approved by the FDA.

Although some people will indeed make what many of us consider bad personal choices, by trying to control their choices through authoritarian legislation, we do them and ourselves more harm. There are many good reasons for people to abstain from drug use, but no good reason to initiate force against them if they choose differently. There are significantly better ways to help persons with drug addiction problems. The many billions of dollars every year we spend trying to prosecute and detain nonviolent drug offenders in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent people from using drugs is wasteful and detrimental to our society, not to mention to those incarcerated individuals and their families.

While our nation debates drug prohibition, Connecticut's legislature can do something positive to help suffering patients in this state by passing HB 6715 and allowing competent adults the choice of marijuana as a palliative therapy for their symptoms.

Dr. Marc Guttman is an emergency physician and vice-chairman of the Libertarian Party of Connecticut. He lives in East Lyme. He would much prefer to spend his time with his family and friends and playing outdoors than endeavoring to reverse the damage of aggressive governments.

Source: Norwich Bulletin
Contact: The Bulletin: Local & World News, Sports & Entertainment in Norwich, CT
Copyright: 2007 Norwich Bulletin
Website: The Bulletin: Local & World News, Sports & Entertainment in Norwich, CT
Top Bottom