November 23, 2009 – The same day they rejected a gay marriage ballot measure, residents of Maine voted overwhelmingly to allow the sale of medical marijuana over the counter at state-licensed dispensaries.

Later in the month, the American Medical Association reversed a longtime position and urged the federal government to remove marijuana from Schedule One of the Controlled Substances Act, which equates it with heroin and cocaine.

A few days later, advocates for easing marijuana laws left their biannual strategy conference with plans to press ahead on all fronts — state law, ballot measures, and court — in a movement that for the first time in decades appeared to be gaining ground.

“This issue is breaking out in a remarkably rapid way now,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Public opinion is changing very, very rapidly.”

The shift is widely described as generational. A Gallup poll in October found 44 percent of Americans favor full legalization of marijuana — a rise of 13 points since 2000. Gallup said that if public support continues growing at a rate of 1 to 2 percent per year, “the majority of Americans could favor legalization of the drug in as little as four years.”

A 53 percent majority already does so in the West, according to the survey. The finding heartens advocates collecting signatures to put the question of legalization before California voters in a 2010 initiative.

At last week’s International Drug Reform Conference, activists gamed specific proposals for taxing and regulating pot along the lines of cigarettes and alcohol, as a bill pending in the California Legislature would do. The measure is not expected to pass, but in urging its serious debate, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) gave credence to a potential revenue source that the state’s tax chief said could raise $1.3 billion in the recession, which advocates describe as a boon.

There were also tips on lobbying state legislatures, where measures decriminalizing possession of small amounts have passed in 14 states. Activists predict half of states will have laws allowing possession for medical purposes in the near future.

Interest in medical marijuana and easing other marijuana laws picked up markedly about 18 months ago, but advocates say the biggest surge came with the election of Barack Obama, the third straight president to acknowledge having smoked marijuana, and the first to regard it with anything like nonchalance.

“As a kid, I inhaled,” Barack Obama famously said on the campaign. “That was the whole point.”

In office, Obama made good on a promise to halt federal prosecutions of medical marijuana use where permitted by state law. That has recalibrated the federal attitude, which had been consistently hostile to marijuana since the early 1970s, when President Richard Nixon cast aside the recommendations of a presidential commission arguing against lumping pot with hard drugs.

Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said he was astonished recently to be invited to contribute thoughts to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Obama’s drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, was police chief in Seattle, where voters officially made enforcement of marijuana laws the lowest priority.

“I’ve been thrown out of the ONDCP many times,” St. Pierre said. “Never invited to actually participate.”

Anti-drug advocates counter with surveys showing high school students nationwide already are more likely to smoke marijuana than tobacco — and that the five states with the highest rate of adolescent pot use permit medical marijuana.

“We are in the prevention business,” said Arthur Dean, chairman of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. “Kids are getting the message tobacco’s harmful, and they’re not getting the message marijuana is.”

In Los Angeles, city officials are dealing with elements of public backlash after more than 1,000 medical marijuana dispensaries opened, some employing in-house physicians to dispense legal permission to virtually all comers. The boom town atmosphere brought complaints from some neighbors, but little of the crime associated with underground drug-dealing.

Advocates cite the latter as evidence that, as with alcohol, violence associated with the marijuana trade flows from its prohibition.

“Seriously,” said Bruce Merkin, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group based in the District, “there is a reason you don’t have Mexican beer cartels planting fields of hops in the California forests.”

But the controversy over the dispensaries also has put pressure on advocates who specifically champion access for ailing patients, not just those who champion easing marijuana laws.

“I don’t want to say we keep arm’s length from the other groups. You end up with all of us in the same room,” said Joe Elford, counsel for Americans for Safe Access, which has led the court battle for medical marijuana and is squaring off with the Los Angeles City Council. “It’s a very broad-based movement.”
By Karl Vick. Source.

October 25, 2009 – More than three-quarters of the voters in Los Angeles County want to see medical marijuana dispensaries regulated, rather than prosecuted and forced to close, according GYI0058684470to a poll released today by a national organization that supports marijuana legalization.

The poll, completed Monday and Tuesday, also found that 74% support the state’s medical marijuana law, while 54% want to see marijuana legalized, regulated and taxed.

The Marijuana Policy Project, based in Washington, D.C., commissioned the poll by an independent firm, Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, after Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley threatened all dispensaries in the county with prosecution.

Cooley and Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich argue that the stores, which now number in the hundreds, are selling marijuana for profit in violation of state law.

“I think the take-home message here is voters in L.A. County overwhelmingly support the state’s medical marijuana law. They think dispensaries, properly regulated, can be a part of that, and Mr. Cooley’s really out of step,” said Bruce Mirken, the California-based spokesman for the organization.

The poll of 625 voters found that 77% of voters want to regulate dispensaries, while 14% want them closed. Both Democrats (83%-7%) and Republicans (62%-30%) support regulation over prosecution. The Los Angeles City Council is on the verge of adopting regulations after two years of debate and almost 13 years after voters passed Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act.

The proposed law would ban sales of marijuana. Dispensary operators say they do not sell it, but collect donations to recoup their costs, but they fear the ordinance will be used against them.

Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney, said that Cooley merely intends to enforce state law. “Selling marijuana over the counter for profit is a violation of the law,” she said. “Mr. Cooley has said that, if it is found that the marijuana is being supplied in accord with the Compassionate Use Act, then those operations are not targets.”

The poll found support for treating marijuana similarly to alcohol among county voters across most demographics, except voters who are 65 or older and Republicans. Both groups oppose it by about a 10-point margin. Young people, voters between 18 and 34, strongly support legalization, 72%-18%.

Legalization supporters are collecting signatures for four different initiatives that could be on the ballot next year. The Marijuana Policy Project has reservations about moving forward, noting that younger voters typically turn out more heavily in presidential election years.

The poll underscores the growing support for legalization, but the majority is not a large one. “It’s a sign of huge progress,” Mirken said. “It’s not a sign that you are going to win.”

Mason-Dixon randomly selected voters from the county’s registration list and interviewed those who said they voted regularly. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
By John Hoeffel. Source.

August 30, 2009 – The United States is torn on whether or not marijuana is harmful or actually could be used for a healing intervention. There are many studies, articles, and marijuana_alcoholdoctor’s perspectives on this issue. But, what are the true facts?

According to a new Rasmussen Reports poll, Fifty-one percent (51%) of American adults say alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, and just 19% think pot is worse. 25% believe both substances are dangerous. Just two percent (2%) say neither is harmful.

An online article on Saferchoice.org, “Marijuana vs Alcohol,” provides readers with evidence that alcohol is potentially more harmful and addictive than marijuana. A few reasons being:

1. “There are hundreds of alcohol overdose deaths each year, yet there has never been a marijuana overdose death in history.”

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, in 2001 there were 331 recorded alcohol overdose related deaths and 0 deaths dealing with marijuana overdose. The CDC also recorded 20,687 alcohol generated deaths in 2003; where as, there were no records of marijuana induced deaths.

2. “Alcohol is one of the most toxic drugs, and using just 10 times what one would use to get the desired effect can lead to death. Marijuana is one of – if not the – least toxic drugs, requiring thousands times the dose one would use to get the desired effect to lead to death.”

Dr. Leslie Iverson, Oxford University, found in his book, “The Science of Marijuana” that marijuana is a naturally “safe drug” which cannot lead to infertility, brain damage, cancer, or mental illness. He thinks that the legalization of the drug for medicinal purposes should be contemplated.

3. “Long-term marijuana use is far less harmful than long-term alcohol use.”

Drugpolicy.org notes, “There is no convincing scientific evidence that marijuana causes psychological damage or mental illness in either teenagers or adults. Some marijuana users experience psychological distress following marijuana ingestion, which may include feelings of panic, anxiety, and paranoia. Such experiences can be frightening, but the effects are temporary. With very large doses, marijuana can cause temporary toxic psychosis. This occurs rarely, and almost always when marijuana is eaten rather than smoked. Marijuana does not cause profound changes in people’s behavior.”

However, an article published last year by Reuters, provides evidence from Australian researchers that “Long-term heavy use of marijuana may cause two important brain structures to shrink.” They came to this hypothesis by conducting brain scans on men and women. Those who had smoked marijuana for five or more years showed smaller hippocampuses (portion of the brain that regulates memory) and amygdalas (section of the brain that deals with fear and aggression) than nonusers.

Marijuana has been a hotly debated issue for years and it will continue to be; but, one thing is certain, anything used in excess is called an addiction. We must think of the body as a pure and clean vessel. It is important that one uses wise judgment when putting any foreign substance into the body. By Kimberly Willingham. Source.

August 29, 2009 – Is marijuana legalization slowly moving closer to the finish line? Perhaps. In the court of public opinion it seems more and more obvious that there is a Picture 2growing acceptance of illegal drugs, all the while polls point to nothing more than a smoke-filled haze of public perception on alcohol and drug related topics.

Released yesterday a Rasmussen Report survey now finds that a majority of Americans (51%) say that alcohol is actual more dangerous than marijuana. 25% of polled adults consider both drugs equally harmful and only 19% are now of the opinion that the pot is worse than the bottle. Alcohol is legal in all fifty states for adults over the age of 21. Marijuana on the other hand is illegal for consumption except where it is recognized for medical purposes. That is the case in thirteen states nationwide, although only California, Colorado, Rhode Island and New Mexico utilize medical dispensaries where the drug can be sold. Pennsylvania meanwhile is one of seven additional U.S. states considering marijuana bills in their legislatures.

The broader issue of drugs and the legalization thereof continues to win over certain critics and gain acceptance in circles where it was once vilified. Several polls in recent years have pointed to this fact but the Rasmussen survey is one of the first to pit public opinion of marijuana against that of the more widely accepted stimulant, alcohol. Mexico recently decriminalized small amounts of pot possession and the state of California will no doubt receive great attention next year as it pushes three separate legalization measures.

Nationally speaking polls seem to show varying levels of public support for marijuana legislation. Rasmussen indicates an uphill battle for pot even if the climb doesn’t appear as steep as in decades past. 41% of U.S. adults think pot should be legalized and taxed with 49% opposed according to that poll. Back in April ABC News, who did not include the taxing option, still found that 46% of adults favor the legalization of “small” amounts of the drug for personal use. On the other hand Zogby who surveyed over 3,900 voters this past May found that by a margin 52-37% most actually favored pot legalization.

The least inspiring numbers for marijuana advocates comes from a March CBS poll of 1,142 adults nationwide. Asked rather bluntly if they thought the use of marijuana should be legal or not only 31% of responders agreed against 63% who felt it should remain illegal.

Poll numbers such as these help illustrate the rather diverse feelings most Americans have toward drugs and alcohol alike. For instance, most think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes but probably not for general use. Most think it should be decriminalized but not made readily available. Americans are more sensitive to the issue of drugs and tend to believe our prisons should be heavily reduced in the number of non-violent drug offenders but also believe the substances that put them in jail should remain banned.

There are similar disparities in the view of the public on alcohol. Americans embrace the culture of alcohol and are drinking in record numbers. 30% of adults according to the aforementioned Rasmussen survey even think the drinking age should be dropped back down to eighteen. But while most states have already stepped up legislation against drinking and driving 50% of adults still do not believe current drunk driving laws are strict enough. That same number also favors a tax increase on alcoholic beverages.

Perhaps the bottom line is that there is no one way of thinking on any subject involving drugs and alcohol. Still the overall trend is towards a more liberal view of banned substances so long as the message being preached by advocates is one that does not involve public safety. American drug culture was never as apparent as it was forty years ago yet in 1969 at the height of the counter-culture some 84% in a Gallup poll were against the legalization of marijuana. Anything nearing a 50-50 split of public acceptance for pot would have to then be viewed a major achievement to the mainstreaming of the drug. Source.

July 23, 2009 – Proponents of marijuana legalization have advanced plenty of arguments in support of their drug of choice — that marijuana is less dangerous than legal substances marijuana_b_0720like cigarettes and alcohol; that pot has legitimate medical uses; that the money spent prosecuting marijuana offenses would be better used on more pressing public concerns.

While 13 states permit the limited sale of marijuana for medical use, and polls show a steady increase in the number of Americans who favor legalization, federal law still bans the cultivation, sale, or possession of marijuana. In fact, the feds still classify marijuana as a Schedule I drug, one that has no “currently accepted medical use” in the United States.

But supporters of legalization may have been handed their most convincing argument yet: the bummer economy. Advocates argue that if state or local governments could collect a tax on even a fraction of pot sales, it would help rescue cash-strapped communities. Not surprisingly, the idea is getting traction in California, home to both the nation”s largest supply of domestically grown marijuana (worth a estimated $14 billion a year) and to the country”s biggest state budget deficit (more than $26 billion).

On Monday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California legislative leaders a tentative budget agreement to plug the state’s deficit, but it would involve making sweeping cuts in education and health services, as well as taking billions from county governments. Democratic state assemblyman Tom Ammiano has introduced legislation that would let California regulate and tax the sale of marijuana. The state’s proposed $50 an ounce pot tax would bring in about $1.3 billion a year in additional revenue. Ammiano’s bill was shelved this session but he expects to introduce a revised bill early next year. (Read “Can Marijuana Help Rescue California’s Economy?”)

If the state legislature doesn’t act, perhaps California voters will. One group is preparing to place a statewide initiative for the November 2010 ballot that would regulate and tax the sale of marijuana for Californians 21 years of age and older. Tellingly, the group spearheading the measure calls itself TaxCannabis2010.org, stressing the revenue advantages of marijuana legalization. The group hopes to collect the required 650,000 voter signatures by January to place the measure on the November 2010 ballot.

“There”s no doubt that the ground is shifting on marijuana,” says Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which promotes alternatives to the war on drugs. “The discussion about regulating and taxing marijuana now has an air of legitimacy to it that it didn’t quite have before. And the economy has given the issue a real turbo charge.”

The legalization effort is getting serious consideration from surprising quarters. In May, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger publicly called for a large-scale study to determine whether to legalize and tax marijuana.

“I think it”s time for a debate,” the governor said at a news conference. “I think we ought to study very carefully what other countries are doing that have legalized marijuana and other drugs.”

In California, medical marijuana sales are already taxed, and some communities are looking for ways to get a bigger slice of the pot pie. Residents Oakland are currently voting in a mail-in special election that includes a measure which would make the city the first in the country to establish a new tax rate for medical marijuana businesses. If the measure passes, Oakland marijuana dispensaries, which are now charged at the general tax rate of $1.20 per $1,000 in receipts, would see that rate raised to $18 per $1,000.

A Field Poll conducted in California this spring showed 56% of the state”s registered voters in support of legalizing and taxing marijuana as a way of offsetting some of the budget deficit. Several national polls have shown that more than 45% of American adults are open to legalizing pot, about double the support a decade ago.

Even the most ardent marijuana advocates aren’t expecting nationwide legalization anytime soon. Instead, any action is likely to come on the state and local level. For now, all eyes are on cash-strapped California, where high taxes could take on an entirely new meaning. By Tom McNichol. Source.

Amid Calls for Marijuana Legalization in the U.S., a look at the Lessons of the Dutch Approach

July 14th, 2009 – When it comes to the debate over legalizing marijuana, even thecoffeeshop president of the United States has a hard time keeping a straight face.

After legalization questions got high ratings in an online town hall in March, Mr. Obama couldn’t suppress a grin and a joke about what the popularity of the topic “says about the online audience.” To the disappointment, if not the surprise, of marijuana advocates, he went on to say that he doesn’t think legalizing and taxing marijuana “is a good strategy to grow our economy.”

Yet there are many Americans – and public officials – who are taking the issue more seriously. In a CBS News poll released Monday, 41 percent of Americans said they favor marijuana legalization. Other polls put that figure as high as 52 percent.

Meanwhile, Reps. Barney Frank and Ron Paul co-authored a bill to end federal penalties for possession of small amounts of pot. Sen. Jim Webb has put forth legislation to create a commission examining drug policy and problems in the criminal justice system.

In California, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano introduced a bill to legalize recreational use of the drug in order to generate desperately-needed tax revenue – and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he is open to a debate over doing just that.

These are significant steps for American politicians, who have long been loath to take on drug legalization for fear of being labeled soft on crime. But they mark little more than an early effort to prompt discussion around the issue.

For a more substantive look at how politicians are grappling with decriminalization, one must cross the Atlantic and take a look at Holland, where casual marijuana use has been de facto legal since 1976.

Where Pot Is Both Legal And Illegal:

Despite what the typical backpack-toting college student might think, pot exists in something of a legal netherworld even in Amsterdam. While coffee shops in some areas of the country can sell marijuana without risk of punishment, proprietors cannot legally obtain the product for sale. And possession and production are technically misdemeanors that can prompt a fine.

“The Dutch model is a little half baked,” quips Tim Boekhout van Solinge, a drug policy expert at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. “The supply side is still illegal, the production is illegal.”

Experts on both sides of the issue lament the ambiguity of marijuana policy not just in Holland but also in places like California, where there are not clear rules about the distribution of medical marijuana.

Dutch drug policy is grounded in the separation of soft drugs like marijuana from harder drugs like cocaine and heroin. “The policy has evolved slowly over time,” said Craig Reinerman, a sociology professor and drug policy expect at the University of California Santa Cruz. “At first they had a national commission, much like the Nixon administration had. And their national commission said, ‘look, all drugs have risks, even legal ones. Some are acceptable, and some are just too high.'”

Because history suggested people would use marijuana regardless of the limits imposed by the government, the Dutch tried to manage use as part of an attempt to keep transactions as safe as possible. (They have a similar philosophy when it comes to prostitution).

Dutch law enforcement will not go after coffee shops that sell small amounts of marijuana (up to five grams) to people over the age of 18, though the coffee shops can only operate if the local municipality allows it. The coffee shops can only keep 500 grams of marijuana onsite at any one time, can’t advertize, can’t sell alcohol or hard drugs and can be shut down if they become a nuisance to the neighborhood. Customers are permitted to consume the drug on the premises or at their home.

In addition, if not for international treaties designed to restrict supply, the Dutch may well have crafted a policy in which the supply side is (at the very least) de facto legal as well, according to Boekhout van Solinge. In the current system the state can only generate tax revenue indirectly, via the incomes of those who run the coffee shops. And many proprietors have little choice but to engage in somewhat shadowy transactions in order to secure the product.

“The fact that production and supply are still left in the underground certainly creates some problems,” said Bruce Merkin at the Marijuana Policy Project.

Predict: Marijuana Nation
Will any state legalize marijuana by the end of 2009?
Over the years, Dutch policy has prompted serious grousing from neighbors. In the 1990s, French president Jacques Chirac suggested the country’s position was weakening Europe-wide efforts to combat drug use. One of his allies in the legislature went so far as to dub Holland a “narco-state.” Holland has long fought illegal drug trafficking, yet remains a significant producer of a number of drugs and a key entry point for narcotics into Europe.

Yet as defenders of the Dutch policy are all too happy to point out, the Dutch actually smoke less pot than many of their neighbors – the French included. According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 22.6 percent of Dutch citizens between ages 15 and 64 reported having used cannabis in their lifetime. In France, the percentage in that age group who reported using the drug was nearly four points higher – 26.2 percent.

Among Spaniards the lifetime usage rate for this age group is even higher – 28.6 percent – while among Italians it sits at a relatively robust 29.3 percent. In the United Kingdom, where the sample included 16 through 59 year olds, the percentage who said they had used cannabis was above 30 percent.

For the record, the country with the most liberal drug policy in Europe is actually Portugal – which happens to have the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in the entire European Union. (But that’s a different story.)

In the United States, meanwhile, more than 40 percent of people 18 and older have used marijuana or hashish. America boasts one of the highest pot usage rates in the world.

“If you look at the data, it really dispels any notion that allowing adults to possess marijuana creates a nation of potheads,” Merkin said.

Dutch public opinion over the nation’s drug policy has long been split, with polls usually suggesting that a slim majority favor the coffee shop-based system. In recent years, however, the country has moved to become more restrictive, thanks in large part to resentment over the impact of so-called “drug tourists,” whose partying has long angered locals.

In 2007, the Netherlands banned the use of psychedelic mushrooms (which had essentially been treated as soft drugs) after a drug-related suicide, and several municipalities have moved to close coffee shops to discourage crime and drug tourism. The U.S. Department Of Justice says that 81 percent of the country’s municipalities did not allow coffee shops as far back as 2000. One Dutch professor predicts there will be no more coffee shops in Holland by 2010, thanks in large part to anger over drug tourists.

One of the key debates around pot policy in Holland, the U.S. and elsewhere centers on the question of destigmatization – whether or not giving the drug the imprimatur of legality will drive up usage rates. Joel W. Hay, a Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Economics & Policy at the University Of Southern California and an opponent of marijuana legalization, says yes.

“A lot of people are now getting the clear social signal that pot is not that great because it is illegal” in the United States, he said. “It certainly doesn’t deter use, but it probably deters a substantial amount, and that’s for the good.”

But Reinerman argues that destigmatization is a “tricky question.”

“I interviewed a Dutch parent once and asked about this, and he told me, ‘my son will smoke a little pot now and then, but mostly it doesn’t occur to him to do that. There’s no allure of the forbidden fruit,'” he said.

Reinerman allows that “in the first six months or a year or two [after legalization] there might be an increase” in marijuana use, but says the destigmitization that would come with legalization ultimately works both ways. “Availability is not destiny,” he argues.

Peter Reuter, a University of Maryland professor of criminology, believes that any increase in usage rates if marijuana were decriminalized would be modest. He points to the fact that Dutch marijuana users tend to give up the drug at the same time as Americans do – in their 20s.

“I’m reasonably confident that if we followed the Dutch model we would not see a big uptick in usage,” he said.

That could depend, however, on whether the United States could successfully follow one aspect of the Dutch policy that both legalization advocates and opponents laud: its ban on advertising. Hay notes that under a legalization policy business interests would be incentivized to try to drive up demand.

In the United States, he argues, a policy that bans advertising on legal marijuana would raise questions of Constitutionality. (Congress and the Obama administration did recently pass legislation more strictly limiting tobacco advertising.)

“I think it would be tightly contested whether restrictions could be put on it, because the adverse health effects are not that great,” said Reuter. “Potential producers could bring suit.”

These sorts of complex questions are being seriously considered in some American circles for the first time since the 1970s. The federal government, however, is not exactly joining the conversation. Though new drug czar Gil Kerlikowske has been lauded for his emphasis of treatment over incarceration – and for abandoning the phrase “war on drugs” – he recently told Rolling Stone that legalization is not something worth considering “under any circumstances.”

Hay believes there is simply no good reason to abandon the status quo and emulate the Dutch policy, let alone move to full legalization.

“We have a philosophical question if potheads should be able to [use marijuana], and they sort of already can,” he said. “It’s not really that illegal right now. And I think having society saying this is something you shouldn’t do, but we don’t throw the book at you when you do it, is sort of a socially optimal policy.”

But while medical marijuana use has been decriminalized in some areas of the country, police still arrest between 750,000 and 900,000 people per year on marijuana-related charges, the vast majority for possession.

“It just should be accepted that cannabis is consumed by hundreds of millions of people around the world,” said Boekhout van Solinge. “When governments arrest people, it hasn’t stopped people from consuming cannabis.” Source.

By Brian Montopoli

June 30th, 2009 – Those of us who have seen the suffering of sick friends or family members relieved by smoking marijuana remain mystified at Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s opposition to a medical marijuana law. But perhaps she will be inspired by Rhode Island’sGeriatrics_patient example.

The Ocean State’s legislature has expanded a 2006 medical marijuana law to allow for state-licensed “compassion centers,” dispensaries where chronically ill residents who are registered with the state health department and have a prescription from a doctor may buy pot to ease their pain. There are 700 registered patients and 582 caregivers who may purchase marijuana on behalf of someone else.

Rhode Island joined California and New Mexico as the only states to permit marijuana sales to chronically ill people. At least eight other states, including New Hampshire and Maine, are considering similar legislation; 13 states offer some legal protection to patients who use marijuana under a doctor’s care.

Connecticut might have been the 14th. A bill introduced last year would have allowed patients with conditions such as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis or AIDS to grow up to four marijuana plants in their homes with a doctor’s prescription. The bill was approved by wide margins in the Connecticut House and Senate. Polls showed that 83 percent of residents supported the legislation.

But Mrs. Rell vetoed the measure. She said it would force people to seek out drug dealers to buy marijuana, apparently unaware that that’s what sick people or their friends were already doing.

Mrs. Rell also said the bill would send the wrong message to young people. But research by the Washington, D.C.-based Medical Marijuana Project has found no increases in marijuana use among the young and some indications of less use in some age groups in states that allow medical marijuana.

Perhaps when pot becomes a palliative for cancer or HIV/AIDS patients, it loses its attraction.

State Rep. Penny Bacchiochi, R-Somers, whose then-husband used marijuana to counter the pain of bone cancer in the 1980s, reintroduced the medical marijuana bill earlier this year but did not press it after she was told that the governor had not changed her position.

The governor ought to do so in time for the 2010 session, lest she allow ideology to trump compassion. Source.