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Voters Want Medical Marijuana Accessible

Smokin Moose

Fallen Cannabis Warrior
Medical marijuana is legal in Colorado, but where do you get it? This is a question that Mabel ( not her real name ), a 64-year-old silver-haired grandmother, deals with every day. Mabel suffers from debilitating arthritis and chronic back pain. When her conditions flare up, she is barely able to turn the pages of a children's book with her 4- and 2-year-old grandchildren sitting on her lap. After years of trying dozens of prescription medications, and screaming out in pain as she developed a tolerance to each of them, and vomiting up dozens of pills as her stomach, liver and kidneys were overtaxed, Mabel tried medical marijuana for the first time in her life at age 60.

It worked. It helped her pain. She had her life back. She consulted with her doctor, who agreed that medical marijuana benefited Mabel, and recommended that she use it. In the 2000 election, Colorado voters decided that Mabel and others should have a safe and legal source for medical marijuana.

For Mabel, access was far from easy. She couldn't go to the corner pharmacy for it. She didn't know any dealers. She has found herself alone, in bad neighborhoods, after dark, with wads of cash, trying to purchase low-quality street-grade marijuana.

She has no idea of even how to start growing it herself, and cannot afford the high cost of indoor cultivation equipment. She lives in an apartment, so has no yard for outdoor cultivation.

A year ago, Mabel found someone she calls her "lifesaver," a medical marijuana grower who has a strong passion to help suffering people. Mabel's caregiver consistently supplies her with high-quality medical-grade marijuana at a price below market rate.

In July 2007, Mabel's "lifesaver" was helping more than five patients. In doing so, both he and Mabel risked arrest and prosecution because of a state health department policy arbitrarily limiting caregivers to five patients each.

The Rocky Mountain News got it right in its editorial of Nov. 26, "Regulating caregivers/State should closely monitor those who assist medical pot patients," when it condemned this illegal backroom limitation, enacted in secret without any input from voters, scientists, physicians, experts, patients, caregivers and others.

Court testimony from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment established that the number "five" was picked randomly by federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents looming over the state agency. It's not like Granny Mabel had lots of choices of caregivers. How many medical marijuana cultivators do you know personally? They aren't exactly in the Yellow Pages, mainly because of the climate of fear created by prosecutors.

The state's illegal DEA-spawned limit had a devastating effect on the health of sick people following their doctors' advice. A government that operates in secret will inevitably do evil, and hurt innocent people for no legal or scientific reason. This is why, in response to a lawsuit brought by medical marijuana patients and caregivers, Chief Denver District Court Judge Larry Naves enjoined this damaging policy in July, and threw it out permanently in November.

The Rocky, however, missed the mark when it advocated increased government regulation of medical marijuana caregivers. The editorial ignored basic laws of logic, economics, science, and the Colorado Constitution itself. Patients should be allowed select their caregivers without government interference. If six patients select a particular caregiver, government should not stand in the way of this important relationship.

Caregivers with multiple patients can provide the best medicine at a lower cost and more efficiently. They can develop plants with superior genetics.

They benefit from economies of scale. Nobody advocates that the corner pharmacy - which carries far more addictive and dangerous substances than marijuana - be prohibited from providing medicine to more than five patients. And Colorado voters, in overwhelmingly legalizing medical marijuana, enacted no restrictions on the number of patients per caregiver, preferring patient choice.

The voters wanted sick people like Mabel to obtain the highest quality medicine in the most efficient, safest way possible, instead of banishing them to wander alone on dark and dangerous streets.

Source: Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO)
Copyright: 2007 Denver Publishing Co.
Contact: letters@rockymountainnews.com
Website: Rocky Mountain News : Denver News, Business, Homes, Jobs, Cars, & Information
 
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