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Immigration and medical marijuana

Today's lead and secondary editorials deal with sensitive subjects for many Americans.  The first has to do with immigration and President Obama signaled desire to move forward on the issue.  It's an effort the previous administration attempted but failed to gain support.  With border issues in Mexico and Canada as examples, though, it is an issue that cannot wait. Without specifics, this latest effort will fail again.

The Obama administration is in favor of legislation that would legalize immigrants but recognize that they previously violated the law, imposing fines and other penalties to fit the offense. This may not sit well with groups opposing the president's broad-based plan, which he plans to speak about next month. 

Interestingly, the AFL-CIO and Change to Win recently announced they are joining the administration's effort for immigration reform.  Perhaps these groups understand the cost of undocumented workers versus the savings of reform. The Immigration Policy Center recently released a review indicating the benefits of legalizing undocumented workers.

On another note, but no less controversial, New York has the opportunity to join 14 other states in legalizing the use of medicinal marijuana.  The News' editorial stance has been, and remains, in support of such a measure but with tight controls to avoid making marijuana more readily available for non-medical uses.

However, compassion should weigh heavily in favor of those who stand to gain relief from the pain from diseases such as multiple sclerosis or experience nausea from undergoing chemotherapy.  Anecdotal reports of people like Joel Peacock, cited in News Albany chief Tom Precious' article, who practiced responsible, lawful use while living in another state, should be considered.  And the measure proposed here, as in other states, would include restrictions to discourage illicit trade.

In an Another Voice by Andrea J. Wanat and Robert Whitney, the other side of the issue is heard.  In their piece, they argue that "when THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is inhaled, many other harmful substances are distributed throughout the body."  They are not alone in their objections, which include the risks associated with long-term use and the possibility of physical dependence and impaired immune and lung functions -- as well as risks to society and impressions made on teens.

Dawn Marie Bracely/Editorial Writer

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