Thursday, March 31, 2005
On this day:

Medical Marijuana Bill Introduced in Alabama House

A bill has been introduced in the Alabama House that would "authorize the medical use of marijuana only for certain qualifying patients who have been diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition."

Many see medical marijuana legislation as a first step towards full-scale legalization of marijuana. I don't believe that to be the case. But, I do believe that having a thoughtful and deliberative debate on the issue may be the first step towards adopting a more rational and compassionate drug policy.

Whether marijuana has valid uses in medical treatment is still a matter for debate. This article from Tuesday's New York Times claims to put "medical marijuana on trial," although some have questioned its objectivity. There's a good synopsis of both sides' arguments here.

Some may be surprised to learn that some of the most prominent voices in favor of medical marijuana legislation are conservatives. William F. Buckley has written in favor of medical marijuana here, here, and here. In the first of those articles, Buckley relays the story of a friend of his who died not long after he was forbidden by a (federal) judge from smoking marijuana to relieve his suffering from AIDS and cancer. Conservative historian and columnist Rick Brookhiser testified before Congress about his own use of marijuana while he was undergoing chemotherapy. He had used marijuana (illegally) in order to relieve the nausea caused by his chemo treatments. He wrote further about that experience here.

Assuming that it is not pronounced "dead on arrival," this will very likely be a contentious issue in the legislature. One point that may or may not be significant - the sponsor and all of the co-sponsors are Democrats.