Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thoughts on SB17: Legalization of Medical Marijuana in Delaware

Thoughts on SB17: Delaware’s Medical Marijuana Bill

Whenever Mark, aged three, touched an object he shouldn’t, his mother would make him go into the kitchen. As soon as he saw she would drag him there, he would begin a chilling banshee scream, yelling, “Mommy, I won’t do it again. I promise. I won’t do it again.”

But his sobs were useless. His mom would turn on the stove’s gas flame burner and hold his hand over it until his palm blistered. As he screamed in agony, she would yell, “Will you touch that again? Will you? WILL you!!”

“No, no, NO.”

Finally she would let go.

Mark spent his toddler years afraid of everything. He’d wander aimlessly around the house with tears running down his face, sobbing his heart out with no one to comfort him.

A wasted childhood turned into wasted school years and wasted young adult years. Mark drank himself to death by age thirty-eight. In a bitter irony, not just his hands, but his entire body was burned to ashes via cremation and scattered to the four winds.

Was it alcohol that killed Mark? “Yes” and “No.”

“Yes,” in that technically he died of alcohol poisoning; but, “no,” in that Mark was killed long before he turned thirty-eight.

That’s the way it is with substance abuse. Abuse of alcohol and drugs is a sure indicator of a spiritual problem, a soul signal that a life has gone badly awry; that someone is in need of help.

Mark’s problem was not alcohol itself, for what can be used for good can be used for ill. A champagne toast at a wedding is a happy event, an acknowledgement that joy prevails, at least for a fragile and fleeting moment. That toast is a very different thing than starting out the day with a Bloody Mary and topping it off with a bottle of Scotch, as my friend Dick Scholl, convicted of grand larceny and dying of AIDs did until the day he died. But that’s another story with other lessons.

The point is: that is how it is with the human condition and the tragedy and hope of human choice. It’s not the alcohol, not the marijuana, not the opiate that is evil. Out of the heart come all manner of bad things. It’s the choices that are made and why the choices are made that are at the heart of alcohol and drug abuse.

Anything that can be used for good can be used for ill, as the site found here states:

“…there are more than 1000 household products that teens can use to get high: typewriter correction fluid, felt tip markers, spray paint, air freshener, butane, cooking spray, various types of glue, gasoline, deodorant spray, fabric protector spray, whipping cream aerosols, hair spray, and household cleaners. Not only are these items available in the home, teens can walk into any grocery store, hardware store, or pharmacy and purchase them with no questions asked.”

And, frankly, no questions should be asked of people who buy household products designed to do good but which are sometimes used for evil, self destructive and deadly purposes.

That brings us back to the point of this small essay. If marijuana, which can be used for evil, can also be used for good, then let it legally be used for the limited but obvious good it can provide for those in pain.
Sadly, like Mark, there will always be those who smoke to avoid life or who shoot up their veins to escape the heartlessness of this world, who get into the drug culture out of a foolish notion of sophistication and the literally high life, or who, out of sheer greed, determine to take advantage of fellow human beings, even children, for profit.

At the heart of the abuse is a person, a priceless life to be salvaged, a soul to be redeemed. The substance is almost incidental.

Here is where the attention and resources presently given to the War on Drugs should go: to people; to the Marks of this world--the self-punishers, the spiritually crippled, the emotionally dead—not to a useless war on substances.
And in the meantime, to that person who would rather have a gun put to their head and their brains shot out rather than live with continual and unremitting pain--have a joint.

“Rescue the perishing, care for the dying,
snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
weep over the erring one, lift up the fallen,
tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.”

For God’s sake, have mercy.

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