(Page 3 of 3)
1.) Marijuana Should Be Legal Because It’s Medicine
There’s no question that marijuana eases pain, stimulates the appetite, reduces nausea, and helps with a slew of other physical and psychological ailments. There is some question, however, as to whether promoting it as medicine is the best political strategy for making it fully available as a recreational drug.
Earlier this year, NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre wrote a searing critique of the medical marijuana strategy.
“If this were the 1920s, advocacy of today's ‘medical’ cannabis industry would sound like a lawyer back then fronting for the legal sellers of ‘prescription’ alcohol during Prohibition. Prescriptive alcohol was a sham then, and the ‘medical’ cannabis industry (not medical cannabis itself) is largely a sham now.”
“Cannabis consumers," he continued, "who NORML represents, want good, affordable cannabis products without having to go through the insult and expense of ‘qualifying’ as a ‘medical’ patient by paying physicians and/or the state for some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card. How intellectually honest is all of this?”
One response is that successful medical marijuana ballot initiatives protect people who use marijuana for genuine medical reasons from harassment and imprisonment. But the problems with those laws--such as who counts as a caregiver, and the number of prescriptions given to people who are using it recreationally--don’t reflect well on the political acumen of drug law reformers.
Legislators and regulators are wising up and changing tactics. Because most states that currently have medical marijuana laws make the bulk of their sales to people with chronic pain—the only ailment eligible for medical marijuana that doctors can't test for, and thus the ailment most likely to be cited by recreational users looking for safe access—Washington, D.C. decided to omit chronic pain from its list of ailments that qualify for medical marijuana. In the District, only people with cancer or a terminal illness will be able to get medical pot. In Colorado, where legislators claim only 20 percent of marijuana sales are to people with "legitimate" illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, Crohn's disease, and MS, legislators are looking for ways to limit the number of recommendations doctors can write to the other 80 percent of users.
In short, while medical marijuana laws initially gave more users safe access, anti-pot legislators now seem to know that the best way to limit marijuana sales is to treat it exactly like advocates claim to want: as medicine subject to a strict and invasive regulatory prescription scheme.
Read Reason's drug policy coverage here.