Why Do We Care What Law Enforcement Thinks About Medicine?

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Some lawmakers in Tennessee are hoping to introduce and pass medical marijuana legislation this year. To increase their chances for success, they are putting a lot of effort into educating law enforcement officials in the hopes of at least weakening their opposition to medical cannabis.

A symposium held last week was attended by representatives of the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police, Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. “We wouldn’t have had this meeting had we not needed their support and desired their support,” Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma), lead sponsor of the future medical marijuana legislation, said. “I hope we get their support for their sake, as well as ours, because I was once where they are. I know, if they will read the research and they will study, they will have a different view.”

For their part, law enforcement officials claim that they are worried about the federal illegality of cannabis, no matter what the state says is legal. But the real question here, at least for me, is this: What qualifies a law enforcement official to decide what medicine someone can or cannot take?

Make no mistake – in the end, this is what is happening. Sick people in Tennessee need the permission of the police to choose cannabis as a medicine. Whatever the reasoning for that and no matter what circumstances led to that, is that something we want to continue?

Why should a cop you’ve never met decide what medicine you take? For those of you who have friends and family in law enforcement, do you find yourself asking them medical questions often? Do you seek out their advice on how best to treat your ailments?

Of course you don’t, and in those scenarios we are just talking about asking questions. Patients in Tennessee – like those in many other states before them – must get the permission of law enforcement before they can legally decide to choose marijuana as medicine. And if not permission, they must at least convince the police not to actively oppose legislation that would allow them that choice.

Even those who respect law enforcement officers to the utmost have to admit that medical decisions should not be their problem. Don’t police have enough to worry about without having to decide if people they will never meet smoke a joint to ease their pain or help them sleep?

Police should be worried about criminals, and those who do not infringe on the rights of anyone else are not criminals.

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