How Long Must We Wait and How Many Will Die?

I was looking at some old newspaper posts and came across this one in the May 18 2013 Corbin Times Tribune mentioning the 2012 Kentucky Health Issues poll. Here’s the paragraph

‘The headline in the May 15, 2013 Kentucky Enquirer, ‘Ky Poll: Most Support Medical Marijuana’, which reported on the 2012 Kentucky Health Issues Poll, found that 78% of Kentucky’s citizens think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes. The Kentucky Health Issues Poll is funded jointly by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati and conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati.’

Here we are 4 years later and no bill.  How long must our citizens wait for a medical marijuana bill that has a 78% approval rating?  In addition we now know scientifically that Opioid overdose deaths drop by 25% the first year after passage.  That’s approximately 280 deaths in Kentucky that would not happen every year after a bill is passed.  280 X 4 years = 1120 of our citizens who would be alive right now if a bill had been passed in 2012.

What is the matter with our legislators that the neither the opinion of their voters, nor science, nor the 280 deaths yearly that could be prevented, nor the money saved, nor the millions in revenue that would be earned even as they struggle for new revenue sources, nor the 20,000 jobs, nothing seems to be able to move our legislators to pass even a medical marijuana bill this session? What could be the reason for such obstructionism that it should last so many years and cost so many lives?

Certainly it can’t be safety. Marijuana is considered one of, if not the safest of all the recreational or medical drugs.  Not one overdose in 4000 years of use by humans is a pretty good record.  The Administrative Law Judge for the Drug Enforcement Administration, Judge Young, ruled as far back as 1988 that marijuana was, “the safest therapeutic substance known to man.”   And there is the practical evidence from California where the citizens have had a medical marijuana program since 1996, twenty years, and none of the predicted harms of marijuana use have materialized.

Could it be fear? There is plenty of science and information available showing marijuana’s safety so it must be political fear.  Well so far no politician has been punished by the voters for passing a marijuana reform bill anywhere.  However I have heard not a few people say they would not vote for this guy or that because they failed to vote for a legalization bill or blocked one.  If they are afraid they need to be afraid not to vote for a bill.

Sadly maybe it’s just arrogance and the inability to admit what they have been told for 79 years about marijuana, information some hung their careers on, was a complete lie. They can’t accept it even when confronted with the evidence, especially when you realize some of our legislators are prosecutors and know better. Hard to accept it even when it comes from the horse’s mouth as it does with the admission by Nixon Aide John Ehrlichman who said in 1994 when asked about it by author Dan Baum and which was published in the April 2016 edition of Harper’s Magazine, “You want to know what this was really all about?” Ehrlichman asked. He went on to say, “The Nixon Campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people. You understand what I’m saying?   We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or to be black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news.  Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

The current session of the Assembly is drawing to an end. Should it end without a bill passing it guarantees that approximately 280 of our citizens will die unnecessarily during the next year.  So I must repeat the question in the title, how long must Kentucky’s citizens wait for a medical marijuana bill and how many more of Kentucky’s citizens will die while we wait?

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