For months now the State General Assembly has been debating a bill that would legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. Some of the comments and reasoning expressed during the debate bring to question what mind altering drug may have been influencing the thinking of our legislators.
The issue concerns marijuana as a medicinal drug and it should be limited in scope to that use. This bill should not be expanded or used as a cover to allow for the legal possession of small amounts for recreational use.
So what is happening? In the beginning of May on a 22-4 vote in favor of legalizing the medicinal use the bill was passed by the public health committee and sent on to the Senate. Under the proposed legislation, people with a written certification from their physician could legally possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to four marijuana plants no more than 4 feet high. To qualify, the patient would need to be certified as having a debilitating medical condition such as cancer, glaucoma, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.
In April the Judiciary Committee also voted to advance the bill but there were concerns raised at the public hearing before the vote. It seems there is no provision in the bill for those that become certified to obtain the seeds. That being said both committees voted to advance the bill as supporters and proponents of the bill said the wording would be modified by the time it comes up for a vote by the General Assembly.
Why is there such a rush to vote for bills before they are fully written? We have seen it in Congress with national healthcare legislation and now we are seeing it in our own General Assembly. Just what are they smoking that gets them to think this way?
Before any local residents think I am accusing our State Representative Tim Ackert of being under the influence of mind altering drugs let it be clearly stated here that Mr. Ackert voted not to advance the bill. The problem with the bill, Ackert said, was the matter of how patients would obtain marijuana. Although the bill would allow patients to grow their own marijuana, he said, “Many of those in need of it might not be in the condition to do so”. That is clear rational thinking and a substantive reason to vote no.
Representative Ackert said, he has been struggling with this bill. His wife is a cancer survivor and has to deal with pain every day, and “although she wouldn’t consider using marijuana,” he said, he could understand why others suffering would want to use it.
Clearly Mr. Ackert has a command and understanding of the issue and the needs of the suffering for compassion but he has voted against the bill perhaps because it was poorly written and incomplete. Perhaps because the bill would circumvent the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which plays a valuable role in researching medical adaptations.
While others have voted to advance a flawed bill with the hope that someday it will be acceptable Mr. Ackert has voiced his concern about the current content of the bill and the fact that it needs revision. If the bill is forwarded and voted into acceptance without the needed revisions a patient already suffering could someday be burned by a bad law. Mr. Ackert is an electrician by trade and it stands to reason he believes in doing the job right the first time and not correcting the error after a customer gets burned.
Medicinal marijuana may be a worthwhile expansion of use warranted by those in need, but rushing to judgment without attention to details is unwarranted and should be avoided. It is time for the proponents to clear the halls of the General Assembly of this foggy logic and present a well written bill for consideration.