Marijuana: The fight for legalization

Photo Courtesy of
Photo Courtesy of

Joseph Coldanghise

Over the past five years many states have been legalizing the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana, beginning with Colorado and the District of Columbia in 2012. Even more recently, this past May, Louisiana legislature signed a medical marijuana expansion bill. The passing of this bill has made it easier for patients with certain disorders to have access to cannabis oil derived from the marijuana plant.

One can even take a closer look to see that this oil is actually benefiting cancer patients in the Midwest as well.

Benton Mackenzie, a native of Davenport, Iowa, was diagnosed with angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer of the blood vessels. Mackenzie first noticed a tumor on his buttocks region in 2008, but it wasn’t until 2011 that he was officially diagnosed – and he decided to take the fight into his own hands.

He began growing his own marijuana plants in order to create this oil that he was consuming and applying to his tumors. The tumor that was once the size of a golf ball, was reduced to a fraction of the size just two months after beginning his treatment. Unfortunately, in June 2013 his life was turned over to the hands of his government when the District Attorney was tipped off and his trailer of marijuana plants was found.

From there, Mackenzie was sentenced to three years’ probation, and was ordered to live his life marijuana-free. Sadly, Mackenzie succumbed to his illness at the age of 49 in the beginning of January 2015.

Cancer knows no bounds, as there are people within our own metro area fighting hard. A local Omaha resident, Justise Dickerson, 22, was diagnosed with stage 2 pancreatic cancer this past year and has been undergoing chemotherapy. The survival rate of this type of cancer is known to be a little more than 50 percent.

The pain of cancer treatment is something that many are grateful to not know. Since her diagnosis, Dickerson is currently less than 100 pounds, but after incorporating the use of marijuana into her treatment, she states, “My pain just went away.”

Now this poses a question: If marijuana is an effective tool to fight against cancer, then why does our local government fight against its legalization?

This past April, Nebraska lawmakers blocked the Medical Cannabis Act (LB 643) proposed by Senator Tommy Garrett. This act would have granted patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS and other illness to use and safely access medical cannabis with the recommendation of a doctor. At this time the Nebraska legislature has halted further action on the Act until 2017.

The reality of the story is that the health of many in our communities is at the word of our government. But this marijuana debate isn’t new, as it has been going on since it was deemed federally illegal with the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.

Many are wondering, when will the health of our citizens stop being halted by the ignorance and negligence of our politicians?

Fortunately, the marijuana movement is catching speed as voters will decide on marijuana legislation this year for the following states: Nevada, California, Arizona, Maine and Massachusetts.