The Garden City Telegram
2/11/2014
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Pot aid — Focus should be on people who need relief from pain

Pain can be overwhelming for many people suffering from serious ailments.

For some patients who don't find relief in the usual painkillers, a more nontraditional means has helped: marijuana.

Medical marijuana has been recognized by doctors as a safe, effective treatment for nausea and pain of terminal cancer patients and others who are seriously ill.

Unfortunately, narrow-minded policymakers in Kansas continue to dismiss the option.

While 20 states plus the District of Columbia have cleared the way for some use of medical marijuana, efforts to accomplish the same in Kansas have stalled in recent years — at the expense of ailing people marijuana could help.

On Friday, proponents of legalizing medical marijuana in the Sunflower State will join in a rally at the Kansas Statehouse, hoping to change naysayers' minds.

Kansas for Change, Inc., will gather in support of proposed legislation that would deliver legalized access to medical cannabis for patients with a doctor's recommendation.

Studies have demonstrated medical marijuana's ability to bring needed relief from many ailments and diseases. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also has found medical marijuana to be an effective treatment for veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

This state has no business denying such care for its veterans or anyone else, for that matter. All suffering patients deserve the best possible treatment.

Sadly, many critics in Kansas and beyond would rather overlook the potential good and focus on the possible negative fallout of legalizing marijuana as a medical treatment.

While we do know some people would find a way to take advantage of a medical marijuana provision to use pot in a recreational way, that's no reason to punish suffering patients who, with a doctor's approval, could address pain management and other health problems with marijuana. Such concerns simply aren't enough to justify denying seriously ill patients a proven aid for pain and sickness.

Indeed, telling patients they cannot have something that could help is senseless and cruel.

Lawmakers in Kansas who would block medical marijuana — and in doing so ignore how much suffering could be alleviated — should take that to heart.