Still Suppressing

In a truly sad turn of events, our marijuana guy's last moments included thoughts of Kimberly Yee

Editor' s note (again, not really, but it's a premise): Mr. Smith continues to drift in and out of consciousness and blink out orders to Dick Cheney. Mostly Mr. Smith is tasking the former vice president with flipping the television between Duck Dynasty and pay-per-view porn. But at times he is requesting the bizarre, such as foot massages using oil from the blubber of slain baby seals and ground rhino horn to treat his gout and impotence. God save Dick Cheney ... and Mr. Smith.

I'm going to beat a dead horse this week, because sometimes when a horse won't move, you beat it ... even if it appears dead. Sometimes they wake up and move.

But sometimes they're Kimberly Yee.

Kimberly is an Arizona state senator from the edge of Phoenix. She represents a privileged few in Glendale and its environs. I say a privileged few, because I don't think she represents most of her district by a long shot. She represents the minority of neo-conservatives who want the government out of their business, but not necessarily yours.

Yee has spent some of your tax money and her time and effort lately fighting against your wishes. She has introduced several cannabis-restricting bills in the past two years, but she most recently earned the scorn of cannabis advocates, patients and doctors statewide by blocking funds for PTSD research.

A few weeks ago, UA Professor Sue Sisley, M.D. cleared a major hurdle toward a clinical trial of cannabis in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Sisley wants to give 50 veterans cannabis to see how it eases their struggle against PTSD, and an important arm of the federal government recently gave its blessing. Though Sisley still needs Drug Enforcement Administration approval, this latest approval is important to her Food and Drug Administration approved work.

But Yee would have none of it. She effectively hampered the study by blocking use of funds raised by the state medical marijuana program to pay for the study. She wants the several millions of dollars in the fund to go toward keeping kids off cannabis.

Last week, the Arizona Veteran's Assistance Committee registered its complaint with Yee by launching a recall petition. It's a long-shot. The group, which is backed by the state chapter of the National organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), will have to get more than 18,000 signatures of registered voters by August to put the recall on the November ballot.

It's kind of sad when doctors and veterans have to fight their own government to get what they need and what much of the rest of the world—and other medical marijuana states—already understand: That cannabis helps relieve many of the symptoms of PTSD, including anxiety, depression, insomnia and others.

And the state has obstinately refused to hear any of this. Not only is Yee trying to block Sisley, state Department of Health Services Director Will Humble has twice rejected PTSD as a qualifying ailment under the AMMA. Despite the pleas from veterans, adults who were abused as children and others, Humble still isn't seeing the light.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not a Humble hater. The man has done a fairly astounding job making things work under the AMMA. I suspect Humble has endured pressures beyond most of our comprehension from Gov. Jan, Bill Montgomery and other cannabis supressors in state government. I wouldn't want his job.

But the bottom line is that this issue is bigger than Will Humble or Jan Brewer or Kimberly Yee or you or me, and we should all step aside in unison and let veterans get the help they deserve. Yee can start this ball rolling by letting funds go forward for Sisley's study. Then Humble can get the science he wants to see showing PTSD can be treated with cannabis.

Then maybe we could actually treat it, instead of watching as our veterans commit suicide or worse while in the throes of a horrible illness.

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