RIP, Anne Conte, Age Nine — A Casualty of Marijuana Prohibition

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Anne Conte

Anna Conte of Albany, New York has died at the age of nine, a casualty of the bureaucratized cruelty and misguided sanctimony of drug prohibition.

Desperate to get relief for their daughter, Anna’s mother and father had traveled across the country to Colorado, exploring the possibility of moving there in order to have access to cannabis oil. Because of its relatively humane and comparably sensible state laws dealing with marijuana, people seeking to make medical use of cannabis — including parents of children like Anna, who suffered from Dravet’s syndrome — have looked upon the state as the terminus of what amounts to a modern Underground Railroad.

Last January, amid a gale-force outburst of self-approval, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he would take executive action to resurrect a 1980 state program allowing limited therapeutic and medical use of marijuana. But that program would have amounted to another drug war subsidy. It would have left in place prohibitions against growing marijuana for medical use and importing it from other states. This means that the only “legal” way to obtain marijuana would be for families like Anna’s to buy it from police, who had stolen it from private providers.

For people of Cuomo’s ilk, it is perfectly acceptable for sick people to buy “illegal” marijuana, providing that the tax-feeding class receives all of the profits.

Anna and her parents have been prominent advocates for decriminalization of medical marijuana. The same state political system that acts with eager urgency to expand restrictions on gun ownership in the name of “saving children” responded with torpid indifference to the plight of a child whose life could have been saved by removing restrictions on cannabis use. A few weeks ago, the New York State Legislature enacted a measure allowing the use of medical marijuana to treat afflictions such as the severe form of epilepsy from which Anna suffered. For reasons of institutional inertia, however, that measure won’t take effect until late next year.

At the time the bill was enacted, Anna was in the audience at the state capitol, and she was reportedly the first to leap to her feet to applaud. This was a selfless gesture of gratitude on behalf of other children who may eventually benefit once the new law goes into effect. Both Anna and her mother Wendy knew that by the time the youngster could have unimpeded access to cannabis oil it would be far too late.

Anna suffered hundreds of seizures each day. As the child’s body deteriorated, all that her mother Wendy could do was to capitalize on fleeting moments of tranquility to read or sing to her daughter, calming and comforting her in lieu of administering a medication that was being withheld from them for reasons no rational person can explain. Because of marijuana prohibition, Wendy Conte could do little more than watch her daughter slowly die in avoidable agony.

11:18 am on July 21, 2014