The Garden City Telegram
1/30/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Pain aid

Lawmakers should acknowledge medical marijuana's potential.

While many other states have embraced the benefit of allowing ill patients to seek relief from medical marijuana, don't expect as much in Kansas anytime soon.

That's the unfortunate reality in a state where conservative Republicans apparently don't see such help for sick individuals as a priority.

Leadership in the conservative Republican-dominated Statehouse said a bill introduced by Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, to have Kansas join 18 states and the District of Columbia in granting permission for qualified patients to consume marijuana with a physician's order likely won't get a hearing.

A conservative leader suggested there's not enough time to address the issue during this session. How sad that politicians who claim to covet family values wouldn't make an attempt to help people who are suffering a higher priority.

Medical research has suggested that cannabinoids, the active ingredients in marijuana, have medical benefits. Doctors have prescribed marijuana for terminally ill or chronically diseased patients who use it for relief when other pain relievers fail to help.

Meanwhile, those who oppose legalizing pot for medical purposes apparently are OK knowing patients who would use it for pain relief would be considered criminals in Kansas, where illegally obtaining marijuana to treat a health condition could bring significant fines and jail time.

Cancer patients and others with painful ailments deserve better. They deserve sympathy and understanding.

Unfortunately, naysayers would rather overlook the potential good and focus on what they perceive as negatives in legalizing marijuana for any reason, at the expense of ailing people marijuana could help.

Clearing the way for medical marijuana would not be without challenges. We know some people would take advantage of the provision to find a way to distribute pot to those who want it for recreational use.

But that's no reason to punish suffering patients who, with a doctor's approval, could address pain management and other health problems with marijuana.

Haley said he won't give up on the measure. Other state lawmakers who have empathy for ailing Kansans should lend their support to a cause that's more of a priority than some conservatives would have us believe.