On Friday Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) sent a letter to President Bush urging him to end the prioritization by the Office of National Drug Control Policy of prosecuting state workers who provide, and patients who use medical marijuana. “At a time when the scourge of meth is coming across the border, and cocaine and heroin use continues to ravage our communities, the federal government should be cracking down on real criminals—not people who are trying to help those in pain,” Richardson wrote.
Earlier this year, President Bush threatened to target New Mexico state officials with federal prosecution if they passed a bill legalizing the use of medical marijuana for the most seriously ill patients. â€œNew Mexico, like eleven other states, passed a medical marijuana law to allow board-certified physicians to review and certify patients are eligible for medical marijuana to relieve the pain of patients suffering from debilitating conditions. Our Department of Health is now impaired in its ability to fully comply with new state law for fear of federal prosecution. That law calls for controls on the provision of medical marijuana to help protect the health of our citizens and not force patients to seek a remedy from potentially criminal elements.â€ Richardson wrote.
The Governor continued, â€œThe population that seeks this remedy is small and the program is strictly regulated. So far, only 60 patients have applied for state ID card and the Department of Health has approved just 30. I have listened to the personal and heartbreaking stories of this small group of people who suffer greatly each day, and like my Republican and Democratic colleagues in the legislature, I was moved to act.â€
Richardson concluded his letter by writing, â€œMr. President, you still have an opportunity to leave a legacy of compassion by adding an exemption in federal law for states that enact medical marijuana and be an ally instead of an adversary in assisting critically ill people. Respected physicians and government officials should not fear going to jail for acting compassionately and caring for our most vulnerable citizens. Nor should those most vulnerable of citizens fear their government because they take the medicine they need.â€
Richardson has vowed to fight any attempted federal prosecution of either state workers or approved patients in the program. The opposition to medical marijuana has always based on ideology and politics. The politicians who oppose medical marijuana have this warped idea that they allow sick people to use it, then they will look â€œsoft on drugs.â€ This is a narrow and idiotic point of view that completely dismisses any positive medical impact marijuana might have. Are they afraid that we are going to create a generation of pot head cancer patients? Richardson is correct on this issue, and I hope that he sticks to his word and fights the federal government the whole way down the line on this issue. The federal government has more important things to worry about than a sick person with a joint.
Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com. Â His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politicsÂ
Jason can also be heard every Sunday at 7:00 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse