BY BRUCE EATON
In the year 2018, it might be fair to say that a majority of adults have experience—either firsthand or through
a friend, family member, or coworker—with the use of
cannabis for medical purposes. My own list over recent
years includes those who have used cannabis to help tolerate the effects of chemotherapy, mitigate the symptoms of glaucoma, reduce anxiety and insomnia, and ease
chronic pain without the use of opioids. By all accounts,
this use of cannabis has yielded overwhelmingly positive
results without significant negative side effects. But, in
all cases, the users were violating arcane and draconian federal/New York state laws. In light of this real world
experience, it’s a sobering thought—and beyond ridiculous—that the federal government still considers cannabis to be a Schedule One narcotic on par with heroin
and LSD, a substance having no legitimate application.
Any rational observer will conclude that those who
use cannabis for medical reasons aren’t stoners out to
get baked before a Phish concert. They are people desperately looking to improve quality of life, usually after
exhausting the alternatives provided by mainstream
pharmaceuticals. With the availability of cannabis for
medical purposes for approved conditions in January,
2016, New York became one of twenty-nine states where
patients can have at least some access without delving
into the black market. But, the headwinds against wid-er-spread usage—from political, business, and cultural
forces—remain strong. Looking ahead, it’s useful to consider how we got to a point—to use a well-known local
example—where Buffalo Bills lineman Seantrel Henderson risks the loss of his livelihood by using cannabis to
deal with the debilitating symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
In a word: nuts.