Tonawanda News

January 17, 2014

LEFFLER: Medical marijuana doesn't go far enough

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Last week Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a lot of headlines with his State of the State Address. Different things stuck with different people, but the one that most caught my eye was the topic of medical marijuana. 

The governor reached into the books to find a law from three decades ago that gave him the ability to — by executive decree — allow as many as 20 hospitals across the state to dispense marijuana to people with certain severe illnesses as an “experimental” research project.

I put “experimental” in quotes just because it’s funny.

According to Cuomo, people with cancer, glaucoma and possibly some other “life-threatening or sense-threatening” conditions could seek to get marijuana through studies based at hospitals yet to be named, with “stringent research protocols and eligibility requirements.”

Cancer and glaucoma are specifically named. Other than that, it’s a craps shoot. What about all the other things that doctors and scientists have said medical marijuana could help with? What about multiple sclerosis, a subject near and dear to my heart? What about epilepsy, Tourette’s, arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s disease, migraines, nausea, eating disorders? What about anxiety or restlessness? What about people who just plain feel better when they smoke a joint?

New York has a reputation for being a wacky liberal state. We’re bluer than blue. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that gay marriage was recognized here. And we’re still trying to figure out legalizing medical marijuana when 19 other states (and the District of Columbia) already have it on the books. There are two states — Colorado and Washington — that have OK’d it just for pleasure.

How can we possibly be behind Colorado and Washington?

I want to applaud Gov. Cuomo for making a first step, assuming that’s really what he is trying to do. I’d like to think that a guy name Cuomo would have a radical liberal agenda to turn us all into pot-smoking, tree-hugging, gay-marrying hippies. But I doubt it.

Cuomo is getting his ducks in a row to decide whether to run for president. He’s thinking that if Hillary Clinton doesn’t run, he might have a chance. But in order to have a chance, he can’t be the radical liberal that he probably really is.

To hear some people tell it, even allowing medical use of marijuana will send this country straight to chaos. It will lead to human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together — mass hysteria. A majority of those same people probably think it’s always noon because that’s what their VCR tells them. And they’d also likely vote for Strom Thurmond for president — even though he died 10 years ago.

In other words, the opposition to legalized marijuana is fading. The governor should lead on the topic, not be dictated to by national polls, which I feel is the real basis for his current position.

Scott Leffler is the night city editor of the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. Contact him at scott.leffler@lockportjournal.com or on Twitter, @scottleffler.

Scott Leffler is the night city editor of the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. Contact him at scott.leffler@lockportjournal.com or on Twitter, @scottleffler.