In short: Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is the only candidate who has actually killed a medical marijuana bill. Because of Dean’s actions, Vermonters with AIDS, cancer, and other terrible illnesses still face arrest and jail under state law for using medical marijuana. In recent statements he has attempted to sound reasonable, but his actions have shown that medical marijuana patients can never trust him. The only reason we give Dean an F+ and not a straight F is because the latter grade should be reserved for Bush, who is as cruel and heartless as anyone could possibly be on the medical marijuana issue.
What Dean has done: During 2002, Vermont’s legislature considered H. 645, which would have protected seriously ill Vermonters from arrest and jail for using medical marijuana with their doctors’ recommendations. Dean was, as the Rutland Herald reported, “a staunch opponent.”
H. 645 passed the Republican-controlled Vermont House by 82-59, and there were sufficient votes in the Democratic-controlled Senate to pass it there. But Dean used his influence with Senate leaders — who acknowledged that they didn’t want to pass a bill that Dean would veto — to make sure it never received a floor vote. The legislature did eventually pass, and Dean signed, a bill creating a task force to study the issue. The task force reported in early 2003 that medical marijuana patients deserve legal protection, but Dean’s actions guaranteed that medical marijuana patients would continue to face arrest, leaving it to a future governor to fix this injustice.
What Dean has said: From The Nation, March 31, 2003:
“[Dean] cannot stand state initiatives that seek to legalize medical marijuana. ‘I hate the idea of legislators and politicians practicing medicine,’ he says. Should the feds be busting medical marijuana clubs? ‘Depends on the circumstances,’ he says. ‘In general, no.’ If he were president, Dean adds, he would force the Food and Drug Administration to evaluate medical marijuana, and he would be prepared to accept its findings.”
What Dean’s statements mean: Dean has consistently confused the issue by passing the buck to the FDA, which does not have the authority to conduct its own clinical trials for the purpose of approving marijuana as a prescription medicine. Under the best possible circumstances, FDA drug approval takes years. As governor, Dean had the chance to protect seriously ill Vermonters, and instead he acted to ensure that they still face arrest and jail under state law for the simple act of taking their medicine.