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Marijuana pits Conservatives against Conservatives

     It’s not every day when the tiny but influential state Conservative Party attacks one of its own rank-and-file members, but the issue of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes has a way of dividing people along strong lines.

     With Buffalo’s Joel Peacock set to be featured in advertisements beginning today in the area urging the legalization of the drug for certain strict medical conditions, the Conservative Party Tuesday called his views “misguided."

     Peacock, a construction industry inspector, emerged as an overnight poster child for groups pushing the medical marijuana bill after a Buffalo News story earlier this summer featured the longtime Conservative Party member saying for a brief time he turned to marijuana to find relief from the debilitating pain that has been with him since a 2001 car accident on Elmwood Avenue. Peacock, who takes a daily regimen of high-dose prescription pain killers to deal with his condition, said physicians should be able to prescribe marijuna for patients suffering from life-threatening illnesses or chronic pain.

     Groups backing the medical marijuana bill, which has already passed the Assembly, are targeting eight Senate Republican districts with print and broadcast ads. Sen. Dale Volker, R-Depew, is the local target.

     "Today, a registered conservative, Joel Peacock, injured in a 2001 car accident, is calling upon the state Senate to pass 'medical' marijuana as the Assembly did in June of this year.  Unfortunately, Mr. Peacock is only looking at the situation through his belief that 'medical' marijuana will help him with his serious illness," the Conservative Party said in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon.

     “Despite his belief, and the urging of the Marijuana Policy Project, the organization making a concerted effort to legalize 'medical' marijuana throughout the United States, 'medical' marijuana will not offer the relief he seeks," the party said. It said it opposes adding “a known mind-altering drug" like marijuana to treatments for pain and other conditions.    

     The head of the Conservative Party, Michael Long, sought to distance his party from Peacock and to make clear that the Buffalo party member “does not speak for the Conservative Party."

--Tom Precious

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