Saturday, October 20, 2007

2007 - For more than 300 Rhode Islanders, Marijuana Provides Legal Relief

Amanda Milkovits
The Providence Journal
Sunday, Sept 9, 2007

I chose this article because it has relevance to all of our daily lives—it's important to know about the current state of medicinal marijuana laws in Rhode Island. This article, originally published in the Providence Journal, uses a combination of emotion and facts to talk about this history of marijuana legislation in RI and how it has affected its denizens. The Governor of Rhode Island, Carcieri, vetoed twice against the use of medicinal marijuana, but both times his vetoes were overturned by the General Assembly. The latest vetoed legislation legalizes medicinal marijuana, and it was overturned and made legal in Jan 2006. It permanent this past summer. The law, called the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act, allows patients with serious medical conditions, like cancer, HIV and MS, to possess the drug. They're allowed to have up to 12 plants and 2.5 ounces of marijuana, and their legalized caregiver is allowed to grow it for them. A caregiver can have up to five patients, and up to 24 plants at one time if they have more than one patient. This system has been abused once so far to date: a patient/caregiver pair were arrested for having dozens more plants than they were allowed. The caregiver has to be clean record—no felony convictions—and both the caregiver and patient are given identity cards.

As of Aug of 2007, the program has 302 patients and 316 caregivers enrolled. Although these people may be protected under state law, it's still federally illegal to possess medicinal marijuana. The United States DEA has raided California dispensaries, which sell marijuana to people with identity cards, and they could raid Rhode Island too. Although Rhode Island is the 11th state to legalize medical marijuana, the citizens living in those states are subject to federal persecution, as ruled by the Supreme Court decision in 2005. People may worry about the Feds, but the article made a clear point with personal anecdotal stories of the miraculous pain mediating effects of marijuana, and it seemed to be worth the risk for many people. Common illnesses for marijuana include Multiple sclerosis, cancer, and chronic pain of some sort, like back pain.

This is a clear example of how a court decision has had direct impact on the states, like Rhode Island, and thus on us. The paradox contradiction between federal law and state law can't continue, because to say that these laws give mixed messages is an understatement. They directly contradict each other, so this matter will have to have jurisdiction under state law or federal law, but not under both. This is also an example of the split of our country between the liberals and conservatives. Liberal states refuse to abide by the laws of a conservative government. In Brown's community, this idea is acceptable and even encouraged, but what about when a liberal government is in power and the conservative states do the same thing? What if abortion were made illegal in 11 states but the federal government legalized it? If people were to be prosecuted by the state government but exonerated by the federal, then every matter would try to make it the the supreme court, which is impossible, and people would be unfairly incarcerated. Our society has to legally agree on what is moral, because two conflicting sets of laws make an impossible situation to live in. Coming from a liberal community, I think that medicinal marijuana should be legalized on a federal level. If it helps to treat pain, and has minimal side effects, then people should be allowed to have access to it. Our Puritanical roots make the idea of legalizing drugs scary, because many fear that marijuana is the gateway drug to other, more destructive drugs. That logic may not be correct—the article presented many stories of people who claim that using marijuana allows them to stop using their pain medication, which is much more addictive. I'm glad that medicinal marijuana is legalized in Rhode Island, but that statement will mean more if the modifier that it's still federally illegal isn't needed.


1 comment:

Jesse said...

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