Friday, August 26, 2011

Philly Post: PA GOP is wrong on medical pot

Two bills sit in Harrisburg limbo as thousands of patients suffer.

On Monday, the Daily News ran a cover story about the plight of Colleen Begley, a New Jersey medical marijuana advocate who is facing more than a decade in prison for possessing two pounds of pot that she says were destined for people with ailments ranging from migraine headaches to AIDS.

At first glance Begley’s case is not unlike thousands of others across the country involving American citizens who are being—or have been—prosecuted under archaic drug laws that place pot in the same category as heroin (and treat it even more stringently than cocaine, which, as a Schedule II narcotic is deemed medically beneficial). Yet the fact that Begley’s story made it to the front page of a major out-of-state newspaper is indicative of shifting attitudes toward pot—and ultimately, I think, a growing distaste among most Americans for seeing otherwise law-abiding citizens assaulted (Begley was punched by police) and jailed for what most consider a relatively innocuous weed.

Despite a push by Democratic lawmakers in Harrisburg to give Pennsylvanians access to medical pot, two versions of the Governor Raymond P. Shafer Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act appear destined for the great docket in the sky, following their predecessor bills from the last session. The GOP leaders tasked with reviewing them—Sen. Patricia Vance (a former nurse, of all things) and Rep. Matthew Baker—have said they have no plans to hold hearings. To continue reading, click here.