Death Panels

Before Saturday’s event with Rep. Jay Inslee and Drug Czar Kerlikowske, a local medical marijuana patient named Ric Smith showed up. Smith, who lives nearby in Shoreline, wanted to ask Kerlikowske a question about why he went from being sympathetic to the medical marijuana community as Seattle’s police chief to amplifying old propaganda as the Drug Czar. Unfortunately, the meeting was closed to regular citizens, so he wasn’t allowed into the rooms set aside for either the roundtable or the media Q&A.

What’s even worse, had Smith been able to ask his question, it’s not clear that Kerlikowske could legally have given him an honest answer. By law, the Drug Czar must oppose any efforts to legalize any Schedule I drug, even for medical use. As drug law reformers have pointed out, that puts Kerlikowske in a position where he’s mandated to distort the truth and deny science. In fact, several commenters from Saturday’s post got on my case for even expecting an honest answer from him.

As a medical marijuana patient, though, the stakes are clearly higher for Smith. For his privacy, I won’t go into details on his medical condition, but it’s possible that he could one day meet the same fate as Timothy Garon, the Seattle man who died last year after being denied a transplant over his medical marijuana use.

Unlike any of the gullible morons who’ve been disrupting town hall meetings this week for the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, Smith actually does have to worry about decisions being made by government officials that could effect whether he lives or dies. If there’s anyone in this country who had a good reason to disrupt a recent town hall and make a scene over the government inserting themselves between patients and doctors, it was him. Yet instead, as the local TV crews started bringing in their cameras, he shook my hand and quietly walked out the door.

Comments

  1. 2

    Now you see it spews:

    Silly boy…we all know marijuana is the devils weed, gays are attacking marriage, the earth is 6,000 years old, and the magic space goat is set to attack any day now.

    It would normally be so stupid it’s funny, if it wasn’t for folks like Smith, to whom this isn’t a hypothetical battle ground for the normal Crips vs Bloods (Dems vs Repubs) political bullshit. Actually even the Dems have mostly caved on this one.

    I try to be understanding of folks magical beliefs. But what the f**k! Saying you can’t smoke a joint, for fun or even for medical use, but you CAN go buy 15 bottles of vodka, a keg of Bud Lite and order 2 crates of wine from your favorite Napa Valley winery ALL IN THE SAME DAY, then head off with your carton of Camel smokes for your 3 martini dinner while arguing that NO amount of pot can ever be legal is SO MIND BOGGLING outside of the bounds of sanity and rational discuss it makes one’s head explode.

    Is it a “PERFECT” drug? No, there is NO such thing! Over the counter Safeway Tylenol will ACTUALLY KILL YOU if you take to much. It’s obviously more dangerous than medical marijuana, but we can’t even DEBATE that, but Tylenol is sold and marketed everywhere. I’m not debating if marijuana is some magic perfect drug, but it has uses and is LESS dangerous than many many many many many over the counter and prescription drugs, which like Tylenol sure the f**k aren’t perfect or absolutely safe.

    IF a doctor or board or doctors says marijuana is useful as a medical treatment, that should be the end of it. I’m tried of government politicians getting in between me and my health care (wink). Right Republicans?

  2. 3

    Now you see it spews:

    Actually lets USE this synergy! Since these tea-bag “grass roots”(tm) Republicans are upset about the gov’ment getting between them and their health care, and have bureaucrats decide health matters instead of doctors, lets see them put them money where their mouth is…ALL of these find folks would obviously support medical marijuana IF prescribed by a doctor…right? They surely would want a doctor to be overruled by some DC politician’s re-election rhetoric? So lets get ALL of these ‘folks’ to sign petitions to ask for medical marijuana at these rallies they’re interrupting. If they won’t sign, it just proves the point they’re full of shit shills. Just like the Republicans who want less intrusive small ‘out of my hair’ government but then jumped in the Terri Schiavo case or want to have a list a ‘government approved sexual positions’ (re: Lawrence v Texas) that you can use in the privacy of your own home/castle in the middle of the night with another adult.

  3. 4

    ArtFart spews:

    @2 Very well-stated. Unfortunately, it appears that Mr. Smith picked the wrong place and time to make his case. He should (perhaps with the help of some of the rest of us) get a private meeting with Inslee, who from my experience is a very reasonable and open-minded individual.

    Basically, the Federal law must be changed. If the end result is that Kerlikowski’s new job comes to an end, so be it. There’s certainly a need to do something about the horrendous byproducts of the illicit drug trade, particularly the epidemic of flying bullets in Mexico. Stomping all over states’ rights and making life worse for people like Ric Smith ain’t it.

  4. 5

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    2, 3 — Good point. Ask ‘em where they stand on legalizing marijuana and they’ll probably hand you a copy of “Reefer Madness” and tell with total seriousness that it’s a “documentary” you should show your kids to “educate” them.

  5. 6

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @4 States’ rights! Now there’s an issue you’d expect conservatives to run with! Except in their hands “states rights” is a euphemism for racism. They certainly didn’t think anyone should have any rights when they were busy lynching civil rights workers.

  6. 7

    Now you see it spews:

    @4 Right. Our drug laws are like our Cuba policy, faith based not fact based. We spent 50 years trying to ignore Cuba, thinking it would drive Castro from power. Whether you think that’s a good goal (yes) or not, it just didn’t work. The guy grew old and will die without our policy forcing him from power. Total failure. Just like our drug laws. Even IF you support the goal (getting everyone to stop using all but safe legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco…ahem) you should still admit our current policy just doesn’t work.

    For F**K sakes folks, if you try something for 20, 30 or 50 years and it doesn’t work TRY SOMETHING ELSE! (sigh)

    Some folks think actually legalizing marijuana, taking it out of the hands of the modern day Al Capone’s would work to reduce crime and violence that surround the now illegal trade. And it would also make it less ‘sexy’ and rebellious and might lower teen use. Or might not. But we DO know the current policy doesn’t work. So lets TRY something else. Lord, does ANYONE use common sense anymore?

  7. 8

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @7 The problem is you’re trying to reason with folks who (a) don’t have brains and (b) yearn to relive the 19th century.

  8. 9

    RightStuff spews:

    “University of Washington Medical Center committee had again denied him a spot on the liver transplant list because of his use of marijuana”

    Lee – “If there’s anyone in this country who had a good reason to disrupt a recent town hall and make a scene over the government inserting themselves between patients and doctors, it was him.”

    Agree. So this is yet another example of why the government should not run this nations health care system.

    IMO this IS a states rights issue, and WA should legalize MJ and sell it out of the state run liquor stores.

  9. 10

    GBS spews:

    MJ reform will come from individual states legalizing it, than change from the federal level.

    All California has to do is demonstrate the profit motive, how to regulate it, and, of course, tax it, the flood gates will open as if it were the good ol’ days again. You know like back in the 20’s & 30’s when it was legal, regulated and taxed.

    Face it, your grandparents and great-grandparents were “legal” stoners.

    Your parents most likely “tried” it. And many of you have used pot as well.

    If you’re interested in legalizing pot the Hempfest is this weekend where you can learn how to get involved to reform MJ laws.

    Even if you don’t want to partake, it at least get the benefit of lower taxes that come from reduced law enforcement efforts, litigation, court costs, incarceration, eradication, and border guard costs.

  10. 11

    Alki Postings spews:

    @10 I like the ‘idea’, but the problem is that even IF a state legalizes it (for medical or general use) the Federal government still THINKS it has the right to come in an say no…to try to remove doctors licenses, charge people under Federal law, etc.

    WHERE are all the Republicans, Fox News and all the supposed ‘small government’ and ‘states rights’ folks on issues like this?

  11. 12

    ArtFart spews:

    @11 “WHERE are all the Republicans, Fox News and all the supposed ’small government’ and ’states rights’ folks on issues like this?”

    Probably watching Reefer Madness (and taking it seriously) or re-reading Harry Anslinger’s commentaries on “the drug-crazed Negro mind”.

  12. 13

    ArtFart spews:

    @7 “Some folks think actually legalizing marijuana, taking it out of the hands of the modern day Al Capone’s would work to reduce crime and violence that surround the now illegal trade.”

    Well, nowadays, the bigger issue (because of the money involved) is meth. We did such an excellent job of stamping out the Mom-and Pop meth labs in the US that the Mexican cartels seized the opportunity to make and distribute the stuff on an industrial scale. And, so far as I know, there are no known beneficial effects of using that stuff.

    Then we might also discuss the resurgence of the heroin trade, thanks to the mess the neocons left in Afghanistan.

  13. 14

    spews:

    @9
    Agree. So this is yet another example of why the government should not run this nations health care system.

    Right now, our health care system is run by the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries who use the government to pass bills that are extremely favorable to them. The pharmaceutical industry and private prison industries are as big an influence on our drug laws as people within the government as well.

    No matter what kind of health care system we have, we need government to ensure that it works for us and that health care providers don’t just run up costs. That’s an inescapable fact. Every other first world country has government run health care that’s cheaper than ours, more efficient than ours, and covers everyone. We can continue to believe in the myth that a totally free market system for health care is ideal, or we can be smart and introduce competition between public and private care.

    I do have some sympathy with those who are concerned about the tendency to believe that public health care is an open invitation to nanny state health laws, but they’re no less of an evil than corporate health interests who use their influence to restrict competition – which is what we have now.

  14. 15

    GBS spews:

    11. Alki Postings spews:

    @10 I like the ‘idea’, but the problem is that even IF a state legalizes it (for medical or general use) the Federal government still THINKS it has the right to come in an say no…

    That sets up a classic Supreme Court battle over the 10th Amendment doesn’t it?

    Because the prohibition on MJ is not in the Constitution as it was amended for alcohol, until the Constitution was amended to overturn the prohibition.

  15. 16

    Blue collar libertarian spews:

    @14 Lee writes, “Every other first world country has government run health care that’s cheaper than ours, more efficient than ours, and covers everyone”.

    The N.Y. Times had an article on this recently and I’ll try to dig it up, but this is incorrect as I recall. I believe they listed Germany, the Swiss and maybe the Dutch as having system that had some government goals, but not run by the government.

  16. 17

    Blue collar libertarian spews:

    I guess it all depends on hwo we define the words we use, but here is the url to the NYT article I mentioned.

    “Not necessarily, if the health systems of the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland are any guide.

    None of these countries uses a government-run, Medicare-like health insurance plan. They all rely on purely private, nonprofit or for-profit insurers that are goaded by tight regulation to work toward socially desired ends. And they do so at average per-capita health-care costs far below those of the United States — costs in Germany and the Netherlands are less than half of those here.”

    http://economix.blogs.nytimes......man-model/

    See ya at hempfest. I’ll be the old fat white guy in the LPWA booth. ;)

  17. 18

    spews:

    @17
    You’re right, I should have worded that better. Not all countries have government-run single-payer systems, but in all of those countries, the government does work to ensure that everyone is covered. In fact, I tend to believe that the countries that don’t have single-payer, but mix private and public (like France and Switzerland) end up with the optimal systems.

    I’m hoping to make it to Hempfest on Saturday morning. I’ll look out for you. :)

  18. 19

    Blue collar libertarian spews:

    Lee I’ll be there Sat. a.m. to set up and probably Sunday night to close. Guess I gotta learn how to spell as well. hwo ? Hmmm

  19. 20

    ArtFart spews:

    @8 Wrong….they actually want to live in the 14th Century. Except with inside plumbing. And HDTV.

  20. 21

    John425 spews:

    “Unfortunately, the meeting was closed to regular citizens,…”

    Lee, you are forgetting the main rule: “Thou shall not belittle thy fellow Fascists”.

  21. 23

    Here's a fact for ya! spews:

    Here’s a list of all REPUBLICANS who voted for the “Death Panel” legislation, yes the SAME legislation, back in 2003:

    Alexander (R-TN)
    Allard (R-CO)
    Allen (R-VA)
    Bennett (R-UT)
    Bond (R-MO)
    Brownback (R-KS)
    Bunning (R-KY)
    Burns (R-MT)
    Campbell (R-CO)
    Chambliss (R-GA)
    Cochran (R-MS)
    Coleman (R-MN)
    Collins (R-ME)
    Cornyn (R-TX)
    Craig (R-ID)
    Crapo (R-ID)
    DeWine (R-OH)
    Dole (R-NC)
    Domenici (R-NM)
    Enzi (R-WY)
    Fitzgerald (R-IL)
    Frist (R-TN)
    Grassley (R-IA)
    Hatch (R-UT)
    Hutchison (R-TX)
    Inhofe (R-OK)
    Jeffords (I-VT)
    Kyl (R-AZ)
    Lugar (R-IN)
    McConnell (R-KY)
    Murkowski (R-AK)
    Roberts (R-KS)
    Santorum (R-PA)
    Sessions (R-AL)
    Shelby (R-AL)
    Smith (R-OR)
    Snowe (R-ME)
    Specter (R-PA)
    Stevens (R-AK)
    Talent (R-MO)
    Thomas (R-WY)
    Voinovich (R-OH)
    Warner (R-VA)