Monday, November 19, 2007

Tennessee lawmakers discuss medical marijuana

Lo and behold, it turns out that the Tennessee legislature held hearings last week on our topic of the moment, medical marijuana. Among those testifying on its behalf was a man long-time Hillsters are familiar with, Bernie Ellis:

Ellis, who suffers from degenerative joint disease and fibromyalgia, and who was convicted on federal drug charges for growing medical marijuana for himself and providing it for free to four terminal patients, said that marijuana was once a significant medicine before it was banned 70 years ago. He read testimonials from cancer and AIDS patients who said marijuana helped eased their suffering. "We would not be here urging you to make medical marijuana legal again in the state if it were not safe and effective," Ellis said.

Of course, there is no chance in hell of this legislation becoming law in Tennessee. The mere whiff of a medical marijuana bill will bring all the Baptists, Church of Christers, and various other "pro-family" groups out of the woodwork in staunch opposition. Former state Senator David Fowler, who now heads the Family Action Council Of Tennessee, stirs up the troops:

Fowler said, the bill "would inevitably lead to increased public consumption of marijuana and make a mockery of our criminal drug laws. What has been observed in other states is that marijuana distribution becomes uncontrollable in society at large even when it is restricted to 'medicinal uses.' With an individual able to produce up to 13,000 joints per year under this bill, it is naïve to think that those joints won't wind up in the wrong hands."

Shades of Reefer Madness!

For those who don't remember for various reasons, Reefer Madness was a classic bit of anti-pot propaganda that came out in 1936, and became a staple of "midnight movies" during the 70's. Reefer Madness and other films of its ilk were funded in large part by tobacco companies fearing that widespread pot smoking would cause them to lose business, leading to laws being passed that made marijuana illegal. Effective in fueling anti-pot hysteria at the time, today it's more hysterical than anything. The whole movie is on YouTube if you have the time and desire to check it out.