Medical Marijuana

I try to avoid politics on this blog, but I think a little common sense applied to politicized issues is a good thing now and then. So I’d like to briefly talk about an issue on the minds of the majority of states these days, medical (and recreational) marijuana.

Many states are seeing a concerted push in their legislatures for the legalization of marijuana, whether for medical or recreational purposes. I sure wish I had the resources to trace the money flows back from this one. There’s always money involved, and I’d like to know who’s writing the checks.

To my knowledge, TCH, the active psychotropic ingredient in marijuana, has been available in pill form (by prescription) for years. If it’s not available in a particular locale, it could be made available via legislation. This fact alone puts the lie to the idea that marijuana is needed for any medicinal purposes. TCH would do as well and avoid a lot of legal and social complications (not to mention lung damage).

If the availability of TCH obviates the argument that medical marijuana should be legalized, then one has to ask, for what other reason would there be a concerted push for medical marijuana? And of course, there is only one answer: eventual recreational legalization. Of course. And that’s really the whole point. That’s the eventual end point of all this fuss being made.

Whether you agree or disagree with the straight legalization of marijuana, you might as well admit that the genie is already out of the bottle on this one. The loud cries and petition drives aren’t going away. Sooner or later, whether it’s next week or ten years from now, your state will legalize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.

In one sense I have to agree with this. If people want to take this drug, they’re going to. I seriously doubt that the illegality of marijuana has made a dent in its use. It certainly didn’t in the 1960s and 1970s, when it originally rose to prominence. And at the same time, we’ve probably spent billions on the interdiction of marijuana traffic. Lots of marijuana has been seized, but a lot more of it has made it into American cities for use by people from all walks of life. Kind of a waste, if you think about it. Plus, the court costs and jail sentences for casual users are rather silly.

By comparison, the closest legal substance we have to marijuana is alcohol, a substance whose misuse has caused more misery and death that probably any other substance in the history of Man. If you stationed sobriety cops outside every bar or pub in America, you’d probably cut alcohol-related highway deaths by at least half. If you were really serious about that issue, this is exactly what you’d do. (M.A.D.D. moms, take note.) But of course, bar owners and the alcohol industry would never go for that. Prohibition didn’t work, as we all know. You have to let people kill themselves in peace, apparently. (Fair warning: I’m not a teetotaler; I like all kinds of alcoholic beverages. But I drink one and then stop.)

My wife is vehemently opposed to the legalization of marijuana because drug use ravaged her family when she was young. For that matter, my family has seen its fair share of misery from alcohol and drug addiction as well. But she believes that the consequences for society of open marijuana use would be simply intolerable.

I sympathize, and agree to some extent. Legalization of marijuana will cause an increase in its use. But I believe the increase will be temporary, and eventually the levels will return to what might be considered “normal”. At the same time, I think governments should spend the money saved from interdiction efforts on research into the mental (not physical) effects of marijuana. I happen to believe that even occasional marijuana use has long-term negative mental and emotional down sides. If the government did adequate research into this and found it to be true, and then put out advertisements to that effect, I think marijuana use could be reduced by a considerable amount. People are willing to put up with the idea that their lungs will be wrecked in thirty or forty years (witness cigarette smoking), but if they think their intelligence and ambition will be quickly drained by the use of a drug, they (the smart ones at least) may well think twice.

So I see both sides of the marijuana argument. And I see where the genie is taking us. But I do strenuouly object to people who obviously have a hidden agenda, going around acting righteously indignant about medical marijuana legalization. Save the drama, folks. Be honest and push the argument for straight legalization, which is what you obviously and ultimately want. Reveal the sources of your funding, so we know who’s behind this, and tell the truth about where you’re going with this. Stop putting up this obvious straw man argument about medical marijuana. Just tell the truth. THC is available, and even at that I have my doubts about the real efficacy of such drugs in fighting nausea, pain, lack of appetite, etc. (versus other less controversial drugs).

Let’s apply some common sense to this issue for a change.