State senator Steve Cohen keeps making it his business to take on causes that are unpopular in the short run, actually or potentially, but in the long run may end up being of huge benefit to society at large. Cohen's 16-year efforts on behalf of establishing a state lottery, the proceeds of which benefit education, are well known. And the lottery, now established, has met or exceeded the revenue goals set for it.
Cohen now hopes to overcome what is expected to be significant resistance (and that adjective is, no doubt, an understatement) to the legalization of medical marijuana in Tennessee. In a report last year, the American Medical Association established that controlled use of marijuana could be of benefit to patients suffering from a variety of ailments, ranging from glaucoma to cancer. In particular, the plant's active ingredients are a known palliative for the nausea suffered by patients undergoing chemotherapy. Predictably, though, opposition has already reared itself, with one fellow senator contending that Cohen is merely trying to open the door to a full legalization of marijuana by the public at large.
We have every confidence that, just as Cohen tied his ultimately successful lottery legislation to prohibitions of state-sanctioned casinos, he will construct necessary safeguards against unbridled (i.e., recreational) use of pot as well. •