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From the Daily: Proposal 1 makes sense

BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Published October 26, 2008

The less controversial of this year’s two ballot initiatives, Proposal 1 is about something many college students may know intimately well: pot. Though opponents have painted the initiative as a gateway to decriminalization for all marijuana, it does nothing of the sort. By legalizing medical marijuana, the initiative will only make pot accessible to those who are suffering and need it. That’s something most people should agree is worth supporting by voting in favor of Proposal 1.

The proposal will legalize the use of medical marijuana for people in extreme pain, whether from chronic illness or serious injury. The law also lets primary caregivers purchase, carry or grow marijuana for their patients’ use if their conditions are too debilitating for them to obtain the drug. Patients and their caregivers must register with the state to receive a grower’s and buyer’s license.

The proposal is crucial because it eases the pain of the terminally ill, making living with these conditions a little easier. Different types of painkillers work more effectively on some individuals than on others. And while THC, the pain-killing chemical in marijuana, can be taken in pill form, many people respond better when the drug is inhaled.

While it does have its benefits, the proposal is far from perfect. Though it permits a caregiver to legally possess marijuana on your behalf, it does not provide an available means to procure the drug in the first place. A doctor’s recommendation is needed to obtain the state-distributed license, and marijuana will not be stocked at pharmacies.

But these functional problems are minimized when you consider that, unlike most Michigan ballot initiatives, which seek to amend the constitution, Proposal 1 would just enact a law. This means that, if passed, the proposal can be amended more easily to correct its weaknesses.

The more prominent criticism of Proposal 1 comes from people who argue that the initiative is a thinly veiled attempt to slowly decriminalize marijuana and set the stage for future legalization of the drug. So what? Marijuana should be decriminalized. It isn’t addictive and, according to some of the world’s most-respected medical journals in the world, less damaging to your health than alcohol. But because pot is illegal, we continue to lock up harmless pot smokers at a huge cost to taxpayers.

While recreational use of marijuana should be decriminalized in the future, for now, it’s more important to get it into the hands of those who desperately need relief from pain. The Daily endorses a YES vote on Proposal 1.