Such is the nature of mass media today that, if you want people to pay attention to your policy proposal, just being another talking head on C-SPAN isn’t enough. You’ve got to play to The Daily Show’s audience.

That, to the delight of some and the dismay of others, is exactly what Utah’s Sen. Orrin Hatch did the other day when he laced his press release on medical marijuana research — which he favors — with a collection of cannabis-based puns.

“It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana. Our country has experimented with a variety of state solutions without properly delving into the weeds on the effectiveness, safety, dosing, administration, and quality of medical marijuana. All the while, the federal government strains to enforce regulations that sometimes do more harm than good. To be blunt, we need to remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana, which is why I’ve decided to roll out the MEDS Act.” (Emphasis, in case you missed it, added.)

The senator’s floor speech, which didn’t include all the jokes of his office’s statement, and the press release certainly won Hatch, and the issue, a lot more attention than either got when basically the same bill was introduced by the same senator last year.

This time around, Hatch’s announcement of the introduction of the Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act drew a lot more attention from the mainstream press, web-based news operations and the MSNBC daily edition of Meet the Press.

Which is a good thing, because Hatch is correct. A century of political know-nothingness and prejudice has kept the very idea that marijuana and its derivatives could do much to alleviate human suffering out of the lab and on the street.

The experimentation we do have — as informal as it is wide-spread — has given us plenty of reason to believe that cannabis, in one form or another, can give huge levels of relief to people suffering from ailments that include seizures, chronic pain, side-effects of chemotherapy and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Some folks, including those who agree with Hatch on the issue of researching medical marijuana, were concerned that his remarks were just too flippant to be taken seriously.

Others, reasonably, complain that the bill Hatch favors is too little, too late. That, by emphasizing the need for research and regulatory rearrangment, the measure is not bold enough and could actually slow down progress toward allowing people in deep and immediate need to take advantage of the plant’s curative and palliative powers now.

One sign of that progress is the medical marijuana initiative that may be on Utahns’ ballots next year, one that would follow several other states in that direction.

Either way, the fact that the whole movement toward allowing the medicinal use of cannabis has gone mainstream enough that it can be joked about, not just among friends but on the floor of the U.S. Senate, is a positive development.