Recently I wrote a blog indicating I was tilting yes on Question 3 on medical marijuana. I’m still leaning that way, but I was given pause by a response I received from an individual in law enforcement in California whom I respect but who, because of his position, does not want to be identified. According to him, my potential support is a “classic mistake of well meaning liberals on this issue that (a) this has anything to do with medicine (rather than money) and (b) that they will be able to close loopholes later. ” I share this with my readers because it has to be weighed with all the other information in the push to allow dispensaries to provide marijuana in controlled circumstances for the relief of symptoms of certain diseases.
This individual believes that medical use of marijuana is “a complete sham,” that it’s an industry “like big tobacco or the gun lobby.” In fact, an article in the L.A. Times cites the huge profits generated for “non-profits” selling marijuana for medical purposes. Baby boomers supporting medical marijuana, he says, fail to recognize that the pot they knew during the sixties”(with active levels of 4-7 % THC) has been replaced by a more potent drug with THC levels frequently above 20% and up to 30%. Even in… Holland, the government has now banned MJ with THC level over 15% because of its harm to youths, and because they consider it an entirely different drug from that traditionally associated with marijuana.”
He concedes there is “some arguable, limited medical benefit” but, like opponents in Massachusetts, says a synthetic pill, marinol, is available. Experts among referendum supporters maintain that inhaling generates a better response than the synthetic version.
The key to whether one should support or oppose this referendum is one’s relative optimism about the legislature’s ability to close known loopholes. It’s going to be a challenge for the Massachusetts legislature to refine the parameters for medical marijuana and for the health department and legal system to enforce them. The recent record of public health regulators (think crime lab, compounding pharmacies) is not reassuring. And once the marijuana industry is established here and starts reaping huge profits, the power of lobbyists to stave off further regulation could be formidable.
It makes me wonder if outright legalization isn’t what we should be discussing. Should we be talking about treating marijuana like tobacco? Regulating its production, taxing the hell out of it, and having the government reap the benefits of additional revenues.
I’m in a quandary over this and welcome your comments in the section below.