Is This About Medicine or Marijuana? 

Is This About Medicine or Marijuana? 
Posted by CN Staff on February 07, 2006 at 07:31:02 PT
By Jay Miller 
Source: Las Cruces Sun-News
New Mexico -- Is the medical marijuana bill all about medicine or marijuana? That's the vexing question many lawmakers are asking themselves this year. This is another of those issues that affect only a few New Mexicans, but that take up a significant amount of time because they are so high-profile and emotionally charged. More attention should be directed at education, health insurance, taxes, the budget and major economic development ventures such as a spaceport, which affect many New Mexicans. But it is an issue that is not going away until it is dealt with decisively, one way or the other.
Last year, it appeared that was about to happen. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Cisco McSorley of Albuquerque, whizzed through the Senate and past two House committees with only one dissenting vote. It was on the House calendar for action several days before the end of the session.But then one influential House member, Rep. Dan Silva, became upset that a pet bill for his district was bottled up in McSorley's Senate Judiciary Committee and he managed to keep the medical marijuana bill from ever being acted upon.So the process had to begin again this year, in a short session, which required a governor's message to even make it germane. Once again, the measure passed the Senate easily, by a 34-6 margin, with members voting for it who never had done so before. All Democrats supported it, plus 12 of 18 Republicans.The bill is now in the House, where Speaker Ben Lujan, of Nambe, has promised nothing more than to not derail it. A few hours after making that statement, Lujan assigned the bill to the House Agriculture Committee instead of a committee that had heard it last year.That isn't necessarily bad news. It likely will require a longer hearing, but it means additional people will become familiar with it. And for proponents of the bill, it may be good, since additional information seems to sway committee members in favor of the legislation.For some House members, support of the measure will be an agonizing decision. Although polls show that a majority of Americans and New Mexicans support the use of marijuana for specific medical purposes, that support doesn't extend to all legislative districts.If a lawmakers representing these districts become convinced that for medical and compassionate reasons they should support the measure, they must be prepared to convince their constituents they did the right thing.Had this issue passed the Legislature last year, there would have been plenty of time to explain. Senators don't have to stand for re-election until 2008. But House members will be facing their electorate this year. The timing isn't great.It also may not be good for Gov. Bill Richardson. He's not expected to pick up many votes if he signs the legislation, which he put on his call for the session. But he could lose votes from some who have strong moral reservations.It also may not help in a national race, especially since marijuana is a federally banned substance. There are ways to structure a law to put it at least in a gray area as far as defying federal law is concerned. And that is what Richardson says he wants.Eleven other states have such legislation, including some of our neighbors, so Richardson wouldn't be alone. But he could be the only governor seeking national office to have signed medical marijuana legislation.Actually, New Mexico was the first state to approve marijuana for medical situations. In 1978, Lynn Pierson, a conscientious, sincere young man, convinced the Legislature to allow therapeutic research into medical marijuana. The program continued until it ran out of funds in 1986. Pierson died shortly after its passage.A good discussion of the pros and cons of medical marijuana can be found in the Legislative Finance Committee's financial impact report on Senate Bill 258, available at: Columnist Jay Miller has been writing about Santa Fe politics since 1987.Source: Las Cruces Sun-News (NM)Author: Jay Miller Published: Februry 7, 2006Copyright: 2006 by Mid-States Newspapers Inc.Contact: editorlcsn zianet.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Drug Policy Alliance Marijuana Clears Senate Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Approves Bill To Legalize Marijuana
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on February 07, 2006 at 09:14:46 PT
Cringing in the corner
Look at the stereotypes this media outlet is trying to perpetuate.  Voting for medical marijuana endangers your re-election as a politician? Can they name ONE elected representative, at any level, who has been voted out of office because of medical MJ? Can they name an instance where the issue even contributed to the rep getting kicked out? No. With 100% certainty, no.How about the governor. Look at Howard Dean. He killed the medical MJ bill. How far did he get in the "national" race? Out after the first primary? Why? Many would say it was because he came off as a self-centered egotistical boor (ask Senator Harkin, upon whom ex-Gov. Dean dumped his suitjacket while he went off on his rant). How about VP Gore, who flipped flopped on medical MJ for his national campaign, displaying his cold heart in a betrayal of sick people across the country. How did he do in his race?How can this media possibly expect us to believe that politicians will suffer for being compassionate? It's absurd.
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Comment #1 posted by Hope on February 07, 2006 at 09:12:50 PT
"strong moral reservations."
It's immoral to deprive people of the help they can find from this God given herb. In this article, "strong moral reservations" simply means "Reefer Madness".
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