Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vote YES on Michigan State Issues 1 and 2

Michigan voters will have more than just the chance to finally elect a new President and other state and federal office-holders. There are two state ballot issues, and both deserve to be passed.

The decriminalization of marijuana for medical use is Issue 1 and would allow patients with a doctor's prescription to grow and use personal amounts of the herb. Already passed by at least nine states in the U.S., this effort would negate Michigan laws criminalizing pot for persons with a doctor's prescription. Such patients could not be prosecuted for their private use. Ferndale, Ann Arbor, Traverse City, Flint, and Detroit have already passed similar laws.

Our country has always had draconian laws dealing with pot. First criminalized in 1937 after the repeal of prohibition, marijuana use by Mexican immigrants and workers in the Southwest scandalized the temperance activists and other white Protestant conservatives looking to prop up morals and keep up some semblance of Victorian values. They feared the increase of ethnic minorities, Catholics, Latinos, and others in American society. The cult movie flick "Reefer Madness" illustrates the vitriole and over-the-top fear mongering used to demonize the plant.

Marijuana has medicinal properties including appetite stimulation, lowering of blood pressure,
relaxation, and as an anti-nausea medication. It is used by some patients with epilepsy or multiple sclerosis for its anti-spasmodic effects.

While smoking any type of leaf is not healthy, marijuana use is judged far less deleterious than he use of tobacco, which kills millions world-wide each year. And tobacco smokers are not arrested or thrown in jail, at least not yet.

People with cancer, AIDS, and other serious diseases should not be at risk for arrest or jail or fines if they choose to use marijuana as therapy, and voters should vote YES on November 1st.

State Issue 2 would prohibit Michigan from limiting stem cell research beyond federal guidelines. This should be a no-brainer, but is strongly opposed by the Catholic Church and pro-life, anti-abortion organizations. They believe that microscopic embryos should not be used for research or stem cell harvesting, as they are potential human beings. Yet these embryos are already in existence, left over from pregnancy support clinics and couples who have used assistance in artificial insemination techniques. In most cases, the embryos are thrown away or destroyed. They are no more human beings than a handful of sperm is a million people, or woman's eggs are a tiny village. With six billion people on earth, tens of thousands of live children die every day of starvation and disease. Instead of preventing valuable research to help living ill persons with stem cells, we would better use our resources to help the real living people on the earth today. Vote YES on state issue 2.