CINCINNATNI (TDB) -- Illinois Sen. Barack Obama admits he's inhaled. He's been honest enough to say inhaling is really "the point" of experimenting with marijuana in the first place. Now the Democratic presidential candidate also says he is open to the idea of approving marijuana use for medical purposes -- provided there is solid evidence it can alleviate pain.
Obama made his remarks in Audubon, Ia., on Sunday, and was careful to say he did not support legalizing pot. Surprisingly, his comments have not yet received much attention from the Main Stream Media.
But Douglas Burns, writing in the Iowa Independent blog, reports that a member of the public this week questioned Obama about his views on marijuana. The senator said he had tried it and wished he hadn't. He also said he could not understand why Bill Clinton famously said he had puffed on a joint but did not inhale. "The point was to inhale. That was the point," Obama said.
On medical marijuana, in response to the questioner, Obama said his mother died at age 53 from cancer. He said that medical protocols might be developed to allow those Americans who are terminally ill or in serious pain to use the drug to ease their suffering. He did not see any reason to ban marijuana from medical use if strict rules controlling access were applied.
"My attitude is, if the science and the doctors suggest that the best palliative care and the way to relieve pain and suffering is medical marijuana, then that's something I'm open to because there's no difference between that and morphine when it comes to just giving people relief from pain. But I want to do it under strict guidelines. I want it prescribed in the same way that other painkillers or palliative drugs are prescribed."
He seemed to deliver a straightforward message -- some narcotics are already being used as prescription painkillers. If there is a place for marijuana among them, then use it, too.
That's an acknowledgement many politicians refuse to make. In Ohio, State Sen. Bob Hagan, a Youngstown-area Democrat, introduced a measure last year to legalize medical marijuana that never made it out of a legislative committee. There is more about the Ohio medical marijuana campaign here. And Cleveland U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich has been a longtime proponent of easing the ban on medical marijuana. During his 2004 presidential campaign, Kucinich said he would sign an executive order allowing use of the drug. He hasn't changed his mind this year, either.