Our view: We need a safety net for the sick

December 27, 2013 


Terri Perez visits with her son Juan Perez, 30, in their Modesto home on Tuesday December 24, 2013. Terri Perez must care for her two grown sons who are bed-bound with multiple sclerosis she says "They are my angels".

ANDY ALFARO — aalfaro@modbee.com Buy Photo

There ought to be some help in our country for people such as Terri, Miguel and Juan Perez.

This is not a comment on Obamacare. That’s already the law of the land and we hope that it can someday do all the things that have been promised, though we have our doubts.

One of the things it is supposed to do is help people such as the Perez family. To recap Friday’s story by reporter Ken Carlson, Teresa “Terri” Perez has been caring for her bedridden sons Miguel, 41, and Juan, 30, who both suffer from MS. Now the widow has the extra burden of trying to recover from back surgery. Stanislaus County helps with in-home care, but the family needs more.

Perez didn’t ask for help, but her doctor, Priti Modi, did. The doctor can see the daily struggle and the toll it is taking. The details are stark, but one of the most compelling things we saw Friday was the smile on Terri’s face in the photo by Andy Alfaro. There doesn’t appear to be any quit in this woman. It is not acceptable that this family is having trouble paying bills. We live in a generous area and we’re certain others shared our reaction to this story. Such circumstances plainly illustrate the need for a medical safety net that supports all Americans.

We’re not ready to call for the legalization of marijuana as a recreational drug. It’s too early to jump into that debate. But we found state Attorney General Kamala Harris’s comments last week to be interesting. She issued a report that said the state would save “hundreds of millions” in law enforcement costs by decriminalizing marijuana for recreational use. Really? We fear there’s more to it than that.

Medical use was approved by voters in 1996 and has led to the establishment of more pot shops than coffee shops in many major cities. Criminal gangs already target growers, and killings are not uncommon.

We’re not certain that decriminalizing recreational use will make such theft and violence any better or worse. But consider the economics. According to a website that purports to know, high-quality weed sells for $248 an ounce. That’s a far sight more valuable than wine grapes or walnuts and a powerful incentive for any farmer. It’s also a powerful incentive to any thief. If we thought there was a problem with nut thefts this past October, it could get a whole lot worse if marijuana is ever grown here on a large scale.

As it is, the county does not allow marijuana dispensaries. And this has nothing to do with the request to establish a lab in Modesto to turn marijuana into medical products that will help curb the effects of of epilepsy.

Harris’ comments were part of the legally required ballot summary required for the Marijuana Control, Revenue and Legalization Act, one of three initiatives being proposed for the November ballot. To go before voters, it will need roughly 500,000 signatures by May. Harris’s comments assume that state and local law enforcement could quit chasing after your friendly neighborhood dope grower. We wouldn’t count those savings until the costs are fully reckoned.

If you’re interested in the state’s water plan, it might well be worth your while to look up the Maddy Report on Sunday at www.calchannel.com or video.valleypbs.org – but only if you don’t mind your water hot. The guests of The Maddy Institute’s Mark Keppler will include Doug Brown of the Delta Counties Coalition, a group whose stated goal is to “protect” Delta water by keeping it, the general manager of Westlands Water District and the director of the California Water Institute – who are likely to support a tunnel to move it south.

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