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The Total Grooviness of "Medical" Marijuana

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Thanks to Doug Berman for linking to this wonderfully revealing article published in Reason.com.  The title is, "How Many Medical Marijuana Patients Are Fakers?  Does It Matter?"

The opening "Does It Matter?" line gives you a tip-off about the revelation to follow.  And this excerpt from early in the piece pretty much spells it out:  

University of California at Santa Cruz sociologist Craig Reinarman et al....found that "relief of pain, spasms, headache, and anxiety, as well as to improve sleep and relaxation, were the most common reasons patients cited for using medical marijuana."

So now it's official: "medical" marijuana is used in order to relieve anxiety and improve relaxation.

Ummm, I think we just got told that medical marijuana is used to get stoned.

Imagine that!  And here I thought all these years that it was only those DEA types in overly tight underwear who were telling us that "medical" marijuana was just a front for people who wanted to spend the day zapped. 

Well now we know.  Medical need, schmedical need.  Ladies and gentlemen, you can forget all that stuff about how thousands and thousands are desperate for relief from intractable pain.  It's party time!  Anybody got the munchies yet?

Almost no one conversant with pot culture believed the assurances of its backers that the "medical" marijuana program would be administered under supposedly careful regulations established for those with genuine medical need (and some people like that do exist). For those who did believe such assurances, the snickering question now will be, "You mean you were stupid enough to fall for that?"

Medical marijuana has always been the stalking horse for wholesale legalization. Since wholesale legalization doesn't sell to a majority (see the defeat of Prop 19 and the CNN, Pew, Newsweek and Gallup polls, gathered here), it has to be smuggled in through the back door. Hence "medical" marijuana without, it now gets revealed, any very pressing need for the "medical" part.

Far out, as some might say.

It's like other parts of the Leftist agenda: If you can't sell it by telling the truth about what you actually want, then, for Pete's sake, lie about it!  This is a page right out of the book of death penalty abolitionism, which -- unable to garner majority support stated for what it is -- seeks to get implemented anyway by calling itself what it's not, to wit, a temporary "moratorium."

There is absolutely nothing intended to be "temporary" about the "temporary" moratorium, and there was never anything very "medical" about the drive for "medical" marijuana.  Confirmation of the fact that the "patient-oriented" campaign for medical marijuana was largely a fraud may be new, but the fact itself is as old as the desire to get blasted.

CJLF takes no position about marijuana legalization, but very much takes the position that people ought to tell the truth about what they're up to. 

8 Comments

It is the hypocrisy of the proponents that galls me. They know that this "program" is, in the main, being utilized by current marijuana users who now have a more convenient way to get high. (More than 60% of all program patients have used the drug recreationally)

If they were truly concerned about alleviating the suffering of cancer patients they would not oppose constraints designed to avoid making the long-haired college kid arriving at the California dispensary on a skate board the poster child of medical marijuana.

A lot of people seem to be quite upset that "long-haired college kids" are now able to buy and use marijuana legally.

However, I have yet to see any data demonstrating that Californians have suffered as a result of this.

Since Proposition 215 passed in 1996, crime has dropped precipitously, as has the motor vehicle fatality rate. To top it off, the percentage of teens using marijuana has dropped.

If medical marijuana isn't causing any problems for society at large (aside from offending the author's sensibilities), then really, what's the problem?

State-level crime data:(http://www.ucrdatatool.gov/Search/Crime/State/StatebyState.cfm)

Motor vehicle fatalities by state:
http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/States/StatesFatalitiesFatalityRates.aspx

State-level marijuana use stats, 1999:
http://oas.samhsa.gov/NHSDA/99StateTabs/tables2.htm#3b

State-level marijuana use stats, 2008:
http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k8State/AppB.htm#TabB-3

A lot of people seem to be quite upset that "long-haired college kids" are now able to buy and use marijuana legally.

However, I have yet to see any data demonstrating that Californians have suffered as a result of this.

Since Proposition 215 passed in 1996, crime has dropped precipitously, as has the motor vehicle fatality rate. To top it off, the percentage of teens using marijuana has dropped.

If medical marijuana isn't causing any problems for society at large (aside from offending the author's sensibilities), then really, what's the problem?

State-level crime data:(http://www.ucrdatatool.gov/Search/Crime/State/StatebyState.cfm)

Motor vehicle fatalities by state:
http://www-fars.nhtsa.dot.gov/States/StatesFatalitiesFatalityRates.aspx

State-level marijuana use stats, 1999:
http://oas.samhsa.gov/NHSDA/99StateTabs/tables2.htm#3b

State-level marijuana use stats, 2008:
http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k8State/AppB.htm#TabB-3

"If medical marijuana isn't causing any problems for society at large (aside from offending the author's sensibilities), then really, what's the problem?"

Deceit is the problem, it has nothing to do with sensibilities, and the issue is not "medical" marijuana per se but the rampant abuse of the terms under which it became available.

MM was not sold to the public as the first step in recreational use. Indeed, most of its sponsors took pains to say that, whatever their personal preferences might be, the initiative itself was not a springboard to undifferentiated personal use. The pitch instead was that marijuana was to be made available only for its medicinal value, and only then for people in serious need for whom standard medications were of no use. In addition, so we were told, it was going to be tightly regulated to insure that these limited medical goals were the only ones getting served.

As the UC study shows, this was all baloney. The principled way to expand on MM is, say, to have it for a few years as the carefully regulated and restricted regimen it was loudly promised to be. Legalization proponents could then return to the voters saying, "Look, it's worked so far. There have been tax revenues and people have been helped. The controls we promised have been enforced. Now we ask you to try one more step, allowing recreational use for persons over 21 and limited to possession of X amount."

It's just astoundingly cynical for MM proponents to have gone into such detail about the measures they planned to take to screen out fakers, and now say, as the article does, well, if there are fakers, "does it even matter?"

If fakers weren't going to matter, the voters should have been told that up front. Instead they were told the opposite. If a private businessman tried a stunt like that, he'd go to jail for fraud.

Finally, you say (correctly) that crime has dropped significantly in Califonia in the last 15 years, slyly implying, without claiming directly, that MM is the cause.

The reason you use implication is that, as you probably know, there isn't a smidgen of evidence that MM caused the dropoff in crime. The most significant factor in long-term crime reduction has been the increased imprisonment of criminals.

What's really going on is that you want Prop 215 to be vastly and silently expanded, and distorted, so that it will effectively overrule Californians' REFUSAL, last November, to embrace recreational use. Prop 19, which would have allowed such use, went down big time. Now, unhappy with the voters' choice, you want to brush past it by claiming that a far more limited choice they made 15 years ago should be sub silentio expanded by allowing people to fake medical conditions.

If you have no problems with fakery, that's up to you. I have plenty of problems with it.

I don't believe, nor did I imply, that California's crime rate has fallen as a result of its medical marijuana law. Crime rates have been declining nationwide for some time, as have motor vehicle fatalities, both in states which allow MM and those which do not.

I presented these facts simply to illustrate why medical marijuana-opponents have so little credibility with the public.

Opponents of Proposition 215 predicted numerous dire consequences that would follow its passage, including increased crime, traffic accidents, and drug abuse by minors. In order to prevent these disasters, they were willing to block even the terminally ill from being able to use marijuana at the recommendation of a physician. Yet after 15 years, none of their doomsday scenarious have actually occurred.

What's worse? Using deceit and hyperbole to deny truly ill patients access to a potentially beneficial course of treatment, or using deceit to provide access to these patients as well as the less-than-truly ill?

At any rate, California still has the ballot initiative process. If a significant number of voters feel like they were deceived into supporting Prop 215, they can try to repeal it.

"What's worse? Using deceit and hyperbole to deny truly ill patients access to a potentially beneficial course of treatment, or using deceit to provide access to these patients as well as the less-than-truly ill?"

I intend to answer this question directly, along with the rest of your response, but before I do, I need to know two things:

1. You seem to acknowledge that deceit is in fact involved in the present lax administration of the MM statute, in which access is granted to healthy people simply so they can get stoned. Are you acknowledging that?

2. Do you approve of deceit's being used in addressing the voters about the circumstances under which they should allow access to marijuana?

I agree that being in favor of "medical" marijuana and extolling the virtues of hemp are often a flimsy cover for those who simply seek to legalize pot so that folks can get high without having to worry about getting fined, losing their jobs or being locked up. I fully agree that proponents of legalizing grass should just level with people and come out and say that, in the final analysis, they just want to get stoned.

However, my question to you, Bill, is why have you got it in for weed and not alcohol? It seems to me that alcohol abuse leads to a heck of a lot more violence than pot (I'm not talking about the narcotrafficking behind it but the use itself). Yes, plenty of people say that marijuana is a "gateway" drug. Have you ever thought, though, that alcohol might also be a gateway drug? That is, some people like the high they get off of booze but don't like the puking, stench, dry horrors and hangovers. They might then seek another way to get high without alcohol's particular adverse effects. I simply don't get your animus toward pot and not toward booze.

"However, my question to you, Bill, is why have you got it in for weed and not alcohol?"

Because there is no ongoing debate about the extent to which alcohol should be available, but very much an ongoing debate about the availability of pot.

In a blog about legal questions, I tend to address things that actually ARE questions. Dope is. Alcohol isn't. That issue got settled long ago.

Of course there's a question beneath your question, to wit, am I not being a hypocrite for criticizing only pot while many of the same arguments could be raised about drinking.

I appreciate your good manners in not putting it quite that way, and to reward those good manners, I'll answer the question:

Let's assume arguendo that I'm a hypocrite. Indeed, let's assume that I'm an axe murderer. None of that changes the important facts you acknowledged in your first paragraph, to wit, that there's rampant lying going on under the auspices of the so-called Compassionate Use Act, and that such lying is a complete betrayal of the assurances Californians were given when they approved the Act. The lying is also a de facto nullification of the defeat of Prop 19 last year. What good does it do for the voters to reject wholesale legalization when people who want to get blasted can achieve the same thing by just lying about their supposed "medical" needs?

It's a scam. I called it a scam, and, from what you say in your first paragraph, you apparently agree.

In order for a person to take my position on the abuse of California's MM law, one only need oppose scams. That's hardly a bridge too far.

And I would note that at least no one is pretending that gin, et al., is good for you or is "medicine."

I would point out that the Equal Protection Clause does not apply to substances. That is, there is no rule of law known to me that requires the state to treat dope as it treats alcohol, even though the two in some ways are similar.

Finally, it has alway struck me as odd, if not a little crazy, to say that, because we (mostly) tolerate one substance with harmful effects that, in the name of balancing things out, we should tolerate YET ANOTHER substance with harmful effects. I would have thought that, if the point is to reduce harm, the pre-existing tolerance of one harmful substance would make us more reluctant, not more eager, to add to the list.

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