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Medical marijuana: again, a good idea

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Someday, the people of Arkansas will vote to legalize medical marijuana, just as other states have done. That day may come next year.

Another effort is under way to relieve the suffering of sick and dying Arkansans by allowing them to use medical marijuana, with a doctor's recommendation. A group called Arkansans for Compassionate Care is circulating petitions to put medical marijuana on the ballot in November of 2012. The group needs about 62,000 valid signatures.

Arkansans for Compassionate Care describes itself as "a coalition of concerned physicians, patients and allies" and seems, on first impression, to have more organization and more resources than previous petitioners. (Though no more sincere commitment.) It needs still more resources, of course, to overcome well-heeled ignorance and bigotry, and it is actively seeking both donations and volunteers.

Marijuana can provide to some patients relief that is not available from legal medications. Indeed, some of the medications offered in place of marijuana make the patient's suffering worse, not better. Only the hard-hearted could oppose the use of a substance that eases pain and has no harmful side effects. Speaking of the hard-hearted reminds us of Asa Hutchinson, the anti-drug enforcer of the benighted Bush administration. Here is a 2002 clipping about Hutchinson in San Francisco, sending federal agents to arrest medical marijuana growers and users, some near death. He appears to be enjoying his work, but most Arkansans are better than that.

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