In 1996, California passed the Compassionate Use Act, which legalized the use, in that state, of what is called "medical marijuana." This was notwithstanding the fact that the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, was (and is) available through prescription in the drug Marinol. You don't need to be growing pot in your backyard if, in truth, you are one of the few people who needs THC for pain relief. You can go to a normal doctor and get Marinol.
Given this fact, and the recreational pot culture in which the campaign for "medical" marijuana actually takes root, the cynical among us are tempted to think that the real agenda of the "medical" marijuana movement has less to do with "compassionate use" than with get-high use. To their credit, some in the legalizer camp will acknowldge this fairly straightforwardly.
One of the problems with "medical" marijuana, apart from the fact that it's used as a front, is that it is not going to change the fact that drugs and crime are inevitably mixed up with one another. This is true even with the less dangerous drugs. (That it is true with the more dangerous ones, like methamphetamine, hardly needs argument).
Hence today's AP story, titled, "Medical marijuana a target for criminals: Washington state shootout brings attention to risk to growers." It begins:
Patients, growers and clinics in some of the 14 states that allow medical marijuana are falling victim to robberies, home invasions, shootings and even murders at the hands of pot thieves.
There have been dozens of cases in recent months alone. The issue received more attention this week after a prominent medical marijuana activist in Washington state nearly killed a robber in a shootout -- the eighth time thieves had targeted his pot-growing operation.
Here's a bit more:
"Whenever you are dealing with drugs and money, there is going to be crime. If people think otherwise, they are very naive," said Scott Kirkland, the police chief in El Cerrito, Calif., and a vocal critic of his state's voter-approved medical marijuana law.
"People think if we decriminalize it, the Mexican cartels and Asian gangs are going to walk away. That's not the world I live in," Kirkland said.
Activists and law enforcement officials say it is difficult to get an accurate picture of crimes linked to medical marijuana because many drug users don't report the crimes to police for fear of arousing unwanted attention from the authorities. But the California Police Chiefs Association used press clippings to compile 52 medical marijuana-related crimes -- including seven homicides -- from April 2008 to March 2009.
The article can be found here, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35940756/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with wanting to help those who are sick and in pain; quite the contrary. There is also a stimulating, shall we say, libertarian argument for legalizing drugs (although not one I agree with, because it vastly understates the social costs and damage of drug use). But there is plenty wrong with yet another invocation of "compassion" that adores the wrapping while ignoring the package.