Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall and other attorneys from her office are continuing their campaign against medical marijuana, which is on the November 2 ballot as Prop 203.
To his credit, Scott started the show by asking how she can campaign for or against an issue when she is county attorney. LaWall said she is allow to “voice her opinion” but is not allow to tell anyone how to vote. Technically, LaWall didn’t say, “Vote NO on Prop 203”, but she spent nearly an hour of the two-hour show lambasting medical marijuana and sneering at anyone who would “demand” it.
LaWall called medical marijuana a “smoke screen” and a “prescription for disaster.” Comically, she used the same “it’s so long!” defense that the anti-healthcare-reform folks do. Problem is the medical marijuana legislation is 36 pages, and the healthcare reform bill is 2000. Come on, Barbara, 36 pages is too long?
Under Prop 203, a person can get a medical marijuana patient card for any of a number of major illnesses like cancer or HIV/AIDS or to sooth the side effects from treatment for a major illness or to provide palliative care for chronic ailments like depression or chronic pain. The patient card allows you to buy 2.5 ounces of pot every 2 weeks. If you live more than 25 miles from a dispensary, you can grow up to 12 plants in a locked room, closet, shed, green house, or anything else that can be secured. (Of course, you don’t want anyone stealing your plants.) People who are licensed as unpaid caregivers can take care of as many as 5 patients, which allows the caregivers 5 times as much pot.
Rankin and LaWall contend that there are already prescription drugs for pain, and people should just use those. The problem is prescription drugs are expensive, and they usually have side effects. Cancer treatment, for example, is thousands of dollars; why add hundreds of dollars of addition cost for palliative care when you can grow 12 marijuana plants in your bedroom closet? Medical marijuana is a very affordable, natural drug– unlike most pharmaceuticals.
Personally, it really riles me up when LaWall starts putting down cancer patients who want marijuana to help them endure the side effects of treatment. She did this at the forum and on Scott’s show. After a few minutes, I couldn’t take it and called the show. She claimed that no doctors at the Arizona Cancer Center want marijuana for their patients. This is a flat out lie.
I pointed out that at her non-forum, there was a cancer doctor and a cancer nurse from the Arizona Cancer Center and a breast cancer patient; none of them were allowed to speak. When I interviewed the doctor and nurse outside later, they were appalled by the way LaWall’s performance that evening. The doctor told me, “I want to be able to prescribe marijuana for my patients. They need it.”
LaWall moves into Reefer Maddness mode when she talks about dispensaries and growing operations. Prop 203 limits the number of dispensary licenses to 120 statewide. Both Pima County and the City of Tucson have been working on zoning regulations for dispensaries.
Arizona voters have passed medical marijuana laws twice before, but the Arizona Legislature stopped the measures from becoming law. Since then, another voter initiative was passed that forces the Legislature to make anything law that the voters vote for.
If you want an unbiased report about medical marijuana, I recommend Diane Rehm’s recent National Public Radio show. NPR has had several other shows about the topic like this one about it’s medicinal properties. From the New York Times, this story Marijuana, Once Divisive, Brings Some Families Closer talks about adult children supplying marijuana to their aging parents. The quotes from patients who have had experience with both prescription pain relievers and marijuana are enlightening.
For the law enforcement point of view, check out Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). This is a group of current and retired law enforcement officers and lawyers who believe that prohibition of marijuana and other drugs escolates violence. They advocate legalization. (By the way, on Scott’s show, I asked LaWall and Rankin if they had ever heard of LEAP, but they didn’t answer.)
Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana. Will Arizona be next? I hope so. I have worked in healthcare and public health for more than 20 years– including several years at the Arizona Cancer Center. I have interviewed patients, family members, caregivers, and physicians about cancer, cancer prevention, and cancer treatment. When you have seen the courage these people have and witnessed their struggle first hand, you would never deny them something that helps them become disease free. Vote YES on Prop 203.