Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rossi and Medical Marijuana: Does Dino Dig Dope?

Washington Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi

When reading a press release headlined "Medical Marijuana Leaders Support Rossi" which gives two of those names as Douglas Hiatt and Joanna McKee, one might reasonably assume that they both endorse Dino Rossi.

That impression would be reinforced upon reading the leading paragraph, which comes right out and says "The leadership of the medical marijuana patient community, which has historically supported Democratic candidates in Washington State, has broken with tradition and today are endorsing Dino Rossi for Governor and Marcia McCraw for Lt. Governor."

That doesn't seem ambiguous. Sounds to me like they're all endorsing Rossi, wouldn't you say?

Such is not the case. Doug Hiatt has made it clear to me that he does NOT endorse or in any way support Rossi. McKee has said she isn't endorsing anyone for Governor at this time.

Candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Marcia McCraw: "The people have spoken - with a doctor's recommendation; marijuana use is legal in Washington for medical purposes. We have to stop the politicians and bureaucrats who are trying to make it impossible to legally grow, possess and use medical marijuana. They are forcing chronically and terminally ill patients to purchase their medicine from illegal drug dealers, and this must stop."

Like myself, Hiatt and McKee do support Republican Marcia McCraw for Lt. Governor, on the strength of her stand to protect the rights of medical marijuana patients. (I don't think anybody in the medical marijuana community is a fan of Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, who leads a ridiculous "anti-pot" rock band around the state in search of victims, I mean audience members.)

Lt. Gov. Brad Owen (he's the big one): "Marijuana as a medicine is the Trojan horse of the new millennium. The claim that marijuana can be used as medicine is proving to be one of the worst scams drug legalizers have perpetrated on the American people." (Source here: a bulletin of misinformation printed by the Lieutenant Governor's office)

While Marcia McCraw's statement on medical marijuana, included with the release, was impressive, the same can't be said of Dino Rossi's. It was a very bland statement. Rossi's stance on medical marijuana might be described as lukewarm at best, and was actually on the surface hard to distinguish from Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire's, whose Department of Health recently decided to allow Washington medical marijuana patients up to 24 ounces of dried marijuana and 15 plants.

Steve Sarich of Cannacare: "The Democrats have turned a blind eye to our problems and it's time for a change of leadership."

The Oct. 22 press release quotes CannaCare activist Steve Sarich, Olympia Hempfest activist Jeremy Miller, Green Cross founder Joanna McKee and marijuana attorney Hiatt saying good things about how medical marijuana patients must take careful notice of who supports their rights and who doesn't; that's exactly on target.

Joanna McKee of Green Cross: "Spending state tax money to raid the homes of the sick and dying will no longer be tolerated. I hope the politicians in this state, regardless of their party affiliation, get that message."

But to list Douglas Hiatt as "supporting Rossi" when he clearly does no such thing is at best disingenuous and perhaps even dishonest. To have his statement in support of McCraw distorted in this way to support Rossi could of course make Doug and others more reluctant to publicly support any Republican, and it would be hard to blame them for that.

Marijuana attorney Douglas Hiatt of Seattle: "I don't like being called a leader"

"I in no way support Rossi," Hiatt told me Wednesday night. "I dont like the implication that I do." He added, "I don't like being called a 'leader' either, by the way."

"I have been in contact with Douglas [Hiatt] and told him I would make it clear he was not in support of Dino Rossi in future statements," said Jeremy Miller of the Olympia Patient Resource Center. "My support of Dino Rossi is open to change; I hope we can pressure Gregoire into taking a real stand on this MMJ issue. The main goal I hope to achieve with my involvement in this press release is to bring more press attention to the abandonment of 10th Amendment states rights."

That's good, because there's obviously room for honest differences of opinion within the medical marijuana community when it comes to making our decisions at the ballot box. Each of us is entitled to our own opinion, and it's important to respect that.

For us within the community to distort and misrepresent each other's positions to mislead for the sake of the political gain of one party or the other is just not acceptable. That's not the way to reach a consensus. And we owe each other more respect than that.

Here's what Rossi thinks of Seattle...

"The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between political parties either -- but right through every human heart." ~ Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn