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Letter: Medical marijuana should be doctor, not police, issue

It's time that our lawmakers and governor put an end to the cruel, despicable policy of arresting and incarcerating medical marijuana patients. Medical marijuana is supported overwhelmingly by voters -- by 2-to-1 in a 2005 statewide poll. Gov. Pa...

It's time that our lawmakers and governor put an end to the cruel, despicable policy of arresting and incarcerating medical marijuana patients.

Medical marijuana is supported overwhelmingly by voters -- by 2-to-1 in a 2005 statewide poll. Gov. Pawlenty's continuous threats to veto it show how out of touch he is with the Minnesota voters.

It was inspiring to see a medical marijuana bill finally pass one chamber and reach the floor of another chamber. This compassionate legislation deserved quick passage, but unfortunately, it languished, leaving people with cancer and other serious illnesses vulnerable to arrest and imprisonment.

Like Hawaii, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont, Minnesota has no voter initiative process for legislation. The state Legislature must have the courage to pass a bill if patients in Minnesota will ever earn protection from arrest for medical marijuana.

Many of the legal alternatives proposed by opponents of medical marijuana are too expensive, too addictive, and have too many side effects to be good medicine for all patients.

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Chemotherapy patients who are too nauseated to eat or swallow a pill should not have to fear arrest if they -- and their doctors -- find that smoking marijuana is the most effective means of treating their symptoms.

When they have their doctors' approval, patients should be able to use medical marijuana without fear of arrest and imprisonment. They should also be able to rely on a safe supply of marijuana, without having to resort to the dangerous criminal market.

State government should use tax money to prosecute violent crime, not punish medical marijuana users.

Ultimately, the decision of what medicine is best for an illness should be left up to the patient and the doctor, not to the government.

For all of these reasons, our Legislature and governor should enact laws that protect patients from arrest and imprisonment.

Hayley Michele

Chaska, Minn.

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