Legalizing MJ - Medical Pot Sparks Park Rally

Legalizing MJ - Medical Pot Sparks Park Rally
Posted by FoM on May 06, 2000 at 15:57:14 PT
By Ryan Gravatt
Source: Birmingham News
Danielle Baptista said that smoking and eating marijuana alleviates the pain she feels from multiple sclerosis. "Those of us alive today were born into Prohibition," the Fultondale resident said. "We don't know it as anything but an illegal drug. It shouldn't be that way."
Baptista, 37, who is confined to a wheelchair, said she uses marijuana to relieve the stiffness of joints and muscle spasms to help endure her physical therapy and riding horses.On Saturday, Baptista and other supporters of legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes in Alabama will hold a rally from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Brother Bryan Park on Birmingham's Southside. The rally is one of 92 events to be held worldwide Saturday as part of the Millennium Marijuana March.But some say legalization of marijuana makes no sense. "The drug is still considered to have severe side effects," said Stan Watson, the top researcher at the Alabama Policy Institute, a conservative think tank in Mountain Brook. "Marijuana is considered a carcinogen, and if we are moving toward more regulation of tobacco, then it hardly makes sense to legalize marijuana." The state's top legal official also opposes decriminalizing marijuana."The war on drugs requires better and smarter enforcement and innovative programs, such as drug courts that treat addiction problems sternly but with compassion," Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor said. "The answer, however, is not to surrender." For the past four weeks, LeAnne Owen, the Birmingham organizer of the rally, has been posting fliers advertising the rally. But her fliers usually are torn down within a day, she said. "When you are for the legalization of marijuana, you become a pariah to a lot of people," Owen said.Owen, 30, a self-employed massage therapist, wants to place the marijuana issues on the 2002 ballot.The Millennium Marijuana March is an activity of the group Cannabis 2000, one of the largest advocate groups for legalizing some uses of marijuana and hemp.Seven states have decriminalized possession of the drug for medicinal purposes.Last week, the Hawaii Legislature voted to allow the use of medicinal marijuana. Democratic Gov. Ben Cayetano is expected to sign the bill because he has been a proponent of legalization, said Kathleen Racuya-Markrich, Cayetano's press secretary. Hawaii would join Alaska, Arizona, California, Maine, Oregon and Washington that also allow some types of legal marijuana usage. Although this is the eighth year that Birmingham has played host to a legalization rally, the issue has not gained momentum, Owen said. A person caught with a marijuana cigarette for personal use faces a $2,000 fine and up to a year in jail, and a person caught growing marijuana with the intention of selling it could face life in prison, said Greg Yaghmai, an assistant district attorney in Jefferson County. To legalize medicinal marijuana, state election laws require the Alabama Legislature to pass a measure that would allow voters to amend the state constitution.Auburn University history professor Wayne Flynt said he does not see legalization occurring."We have a very traditional culture and this is not a traditional issue," Flynt said. "This flies in the face of traditional values." Baptista is not waiting until medicinal usage is legalized in Alabama, however.Baptista has been denied participation in a federal program that supplies marijuana cigarettes to patients for alleviating pain from diseases such as glaucoma and cancer.Nine people in the nation are enrolled in the program, which gets its marijuana from the University of Mississippi in Oxford, said Scott Colvin, spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.Baptista, a retired art and photography instructor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said she plans to buy land to grow marijuana. "I've already written (U.S. Attorney General) Janet Reno to tell her when I get my farm, I'm going to grow marijuana -- 2 acres at the minimum," she said.News Article Courtesy Of MapInc. May 5, 2000Copyright: 2000 The Birmingham NewsRelated Articles & Web Sites:Cannabis 2000 National Million Marijuana March Marijuana March Draws A Crowd Cannabis Campaigners on the March Protest in Capital Pushes Pot Law Marijuana March Day Has Arrived 
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: