It looks like I may have to spend half my day reading and writing on opinion pieces in today’s Seattle Times, where Danny Westneat once again pisses me off, while Ron Sims and Greg Nickels prepare to piss on each other. But first, I’d likely to briefly comment on medical marijuana, an issue on which HA and Times editorial columnist Bruce Ramsey appear to be in total, if rare agreement.
Ramsey tells of the suffering of medical marijuana patients, both physically and legally, at the hands of our criminal justice system, before laying out a simple thesis in defense of their plight:
I relate Hiatt’s story partly because I believe in letting these folks alone, but partly also because I had an aunt who was in sharp pain from a pinched nerve. Her doctor prescribed an opiate, which handled the pain but messed up her mind and her gut.
My aunt was the most un-stoned person I ever knew, but she told me she would have taken marijuana, or anything else, if it had killed the pain, and to hell with the government. I would be no different.
Personally, I find libertarianism a simplistic, naive and unworkable political prescription when pursued in an ideologically rigid and overly broad manner, but I respect those like Ramsey who apply its philosophy consistently. If I can grow a plant in my backyard that eases the pain of a chronic illness, at no cost to society or impact on my neighbors, then like Ramsey I say to hell with a government that would interfere with my right to seek the medical treatment that works best for me.
Those on the right who claim to embrace individual freedom, yet continue to blindly support our tragic war on drugs beyond all reason, well… you’re all a bunch of goddamn hypocrites. And those on the left who quietly acknowledge the abject failure of our nation’s drug policies, yet refuse to stake any political capital on changing them, well… you’re all a bunch of cowards. As for those of you in the middle, who are conflicted on this issue, who fear (or know first hand) the often tragic impact of drug addiction on your own family, I urge you to put all the fear mongering and drug bust bravado aside, and start to think about this as the public health issue it really is… a context in which one neighbor’s medical marijuana use has about as much impact on your own well being as another neighbor’s gay marriage.
So kudos to Ramsey for speaking out on this issue. If only he could drag his colleagues on the ed board to pursue this issue with the same sort of vigor they reserve for things like repealing the estate tax, perhaps we might make some progress.