I watched the debate between James Leiker and Sue Boldra on PBS on Oct. 16. For the most part, the discussion was interesting, as each gave their stances on issues -- until towards the end of the debate, when the topic of medical marijuana was brought up. Both candidates stated they would never vote to legalize marijuana in Kansas, medical or recreational. Boldra then state: "You can already get a marijuana pill from your doctor in Kansas." Leiker said: "Kansas was just not ready for medical marijuana."
Both of these statements are simply not true. But both of these statements are indicative of backward-thinking, weed-chewing Kansas. Change is hard, that's a fact, but sometimes only with change comes progress. As John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens while you are idly sitting on the fence watching it pass you by."
First, considering medical marijuana: If medical marijuana was legal and able to be prescribed in Kansas and other states, people with children with seizures or chemotherapy patients with severe nausea would not be uprooting their families, giving up jobs and friends and relocating in Colorado where marijuana is legal. Medical marijuana has been a "last resort" method for calming uncontrollable seizures, after parents have sought help from numerous doctors and treatments for their child or family member. Medical marijuana has been found to be very effective in treating seizures, as well as extreme nausea, where other medicines have failed. Of course, the mind-altering component, THC, is removed. Apparently, Leiker nor Boldra have had family members affected by these conditions, or they would possibly (hopefully) change their stance on this issue.
Second, while we're on the subject, what about recreational marijuana? Could it not help Kansas dig itself out of its financial hole? Now before you go wagging your index finger denouncing the idea, answer this question: What do you really know about marijuana except that it isn't legal? Did you hear about marijuana in the potato chip aisle at Dillons from Aunt Darlene whose husband's second cousin once removed got arrested for possession of marijuana? Or have you gotten on the Internet and educated yourself about its effects? It's marijuana, not meth, not cocaine, not heroine. The worst effects it has is craving potato chips and cookies while using it. (Or so I've heard).
Do you order a glass of wine with your meal in a restaurant or have a couple of beers watching a football game? What about a gin and tonic after work to "unwind?" But, you say, those are legal. But aren't you consuming mind-altering drugs? Do you sit and shake your head when you read the police record at all those people who have been arrested for possessing a dime's worth of marijuana? Why? Was there not a time back in "the old days" when a relative of yours stirred a concoction of home brew out in the unused brooder house outside the farm house? I am thinking my Rohleder and Engel ancestors had a few pots brewing. And you had to have a shot of that stuff before you were allowed into a German wedding dance.
Lastly, before you go into a debate, know your facts about the issues. You cannot get a marijuana pill from a doctor in Kansas. As for the Leiker-Boldra debate, I would have to give the win to Leiker, who seemed to know his stuff. Boldra appeared squeamish to answer the questions, particularly about Gov. Sam Brownback's actions. I don't blame her. I would not like to answer for him, either. But then, that's another letter.