Pubdate: Tue, 17 Feb 2009
Source: Daily Northwestern (IL Edu)
Copyright: 2009 The Daily Northwestern
Author: James Kowalsky


Last week, the Daily ran an Associated Press article about a 72-year
old milkman who delivered marijuana on his daily rounds ("From the
Wires," Feb. 9). His "customers" were mostly elderly patients
suffering from body pains. The story was short - apparently nothing
more than a funny clip of international news.

What the news item failed to mention is that cannabis is one of the
most researched plants on the planet. In over 17,000 clinical studies
and published papers documenting its medical effects, researchers have
found that pot helps people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis,
multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, dystonia, cancer, HIV/AIDS,
osteoporosis, sleep apnea, hypertension and on and on.

So when will we view caregivers - like this milkman Samaritan - as
heroes instead of criminals or laughingstocks?

On Friday morning, I got a call from a 54-year-old woman who'd been
arrested with $1 million worth of dank Cali bud in downstate Illinois.
She found my name and number on the National Organization for the
Reform of Marijuana Laws Web site, and didn't know where else to turn
for help.

With tears welling up, she explained that she was bringing back a
large amount of marijuana from California for doctors in the Chicago
area to distribute to patients. In California, where medical marijuana
has been legal since 1996, she's been prescribed the plant for her
crippling arthritis. Like many others living with chronic pain, she
has dangerous reactions to pharmaceutical painkillers.

For trying to share her legal source with kindred patients in need,
she faces up to 60 years in jail and $400,000 in fines. She has no
prior criminal record. In our conversation, she said, "I thought I was
doing a good thing." Her good deed might put her in prison for the
rest of her life.

For too long, our government has made criminals out of doctors,
patients and benevolent suppliers like the U.K. milkman and the woman
from California. It is time to legalize medical cannabis and to
applaud caregivers, instead of deploring or laughing at them.

Illinois Senate Bill 2865 was reintroduced earlier this year. If
passed it would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients, who,
along with their caregivers, could have up to 7 plants and
2-and-a-half ounces of usable marijuana. As NU students, we are
constituents of Illinois state senator Jeff Schoenberg. Call him at
(217) 782-2119 and ask him to co-sponsor SB2865.


Communication senior

President and co-founder

Northwestern National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
and Students for Sensible Drug Policy 
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