Moral Low Ground


DEA Warns of Stoned Rabbits if Utah Legalizes Medical Marijuana

(Rob Sheridan/SketchBlog)

(Rob Sheridan/SketchBlog)

A Drug Enforcement Administration agent has warned Utah lawmakers considering a bill that would legalize medical marijuana there that doing so could result in stoned rabbits hopping about the countryside.

The Washington Post reports DEA Special Agent Matt Fairbanks, a member of a cannabis eradication team, testified before a legislative committee (video here; testimony at 58:00) about what he claims will be the potential negative consequences of allowing cannabis cultivation on public land.

“I deal in facts. I deal in science,” said Fairbanks, who went on to testify that he has “personally… seen entire mountainsides subjected to pesticides, harmful chemicals, deforestation and erosion” as a result of marijuana growth.

“The ramifications to the flora, the animal life, the contaminated water, are still unknown,” asserted Fairbanks, who then said he’d seen “rabbits that had cultivated a taste for the marijuana” at illegal outdoor grow operations in the state.

“One of them refused to leave us, and we took all the marijuana around him, but his natural instincts to run were somehow gone,” the agent stated.

While baked bunnies may alarm some Utahans—and the very real prospect of environmental destruction certainly should be considered, the upside of legalizing medical marijuana, which does not have to be grown outdoors, is enormous.

Utah is not California, where just about anyone with a headache can easily obtain a doctor’s recommendation. Utah Senate Bill 259, sponsored by Republican Sen. Mark Madsen, will restrict access to medical cannabis for individuals with debilitating ailments such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), seizures caused by epilepsy, and other serious approved conditions.

Medical marijuana has been found to be highly effective in treating conditions and symptoms such as these, and is particularly effective in relieving pain, stimulating appetite, enabling sleep, and reducing—even eliminating—seizures in children caused by epilepsy, Dooze and Dravet syndromes.

“So much good is being done with this drug,” argued Sen. Madsen, who asserted that Utahans should “push against federal overreach” and approve medical marijuana.

The plant remains classified as a Schedule I narcotic by the federal government, meaning it ranks among the most dangerous drugs and has no accepted medical use. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD and MDMA (ecstasy). Cocaine and methamphetamine are considered less dangerous than marijuana, according to the federal government.

Despite a promise to adopt a “hands-off” approach to states which have legalized medical cannabis, the Obama administration has waged an aggressive campaign targeting dispensaries in states including California, which has the highest number of them.

“There is no doubt that there are high stakes here,” Madsen told KSL. “Huge empires are built on keeping people away from this drug.”

But Utah seems undaunted. SB259 cleared a legislative hurdle last week when a Senate committee voted 3-2 to approve the bill and send it to a full vote. This is no mean feat in a deeply conservative, heavily Mormon state, and is yet another sign that marijuana use, both medical and recreational, is becoming increasingly acceptable in the United States.

If Utah legalizes recreational marijuana, it will become the 24th state to do so. Four states—Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Alaska—plus the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana use.

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