Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

ADHS must make sure it keeps the medical in ‘medical marijuana’

Marijuana is legal in Arizona, smoke up.

Nit pickers might argue that it’s only legal for people with certain medical conditions who have a note from their doctor, but that was sham legal mumbo jumbo used to dupe Arizonans into voting for legalizing marijuana.

The proof that this has nothing to do with medicine is written into the law – you don’t need a prescription from a doctor to get it, you just need a “recommendation” and you don’t even need a doctor, you can go to a naturopath or a homeopath to get one.

Homeopathy and naturopathy are simply government-regulated quackery. Not even uber liberal California allows these so-called physicians to prescribe marijuana.

Included on the list of ailments that qualify for a “recommendation” is chronic pain, which along with depression (which is not on Arizona’s list) helped turn California’s “medical” marijuana law into a farce.

The horrible tragedy about this diagnosis is that there are numerous people suffering from chronic, debilitating pain. It’s been a long, hard fight for pain sufferers to be taken seriously and not be seen by the greater society as wimps or drug addicts.

Pain sufferers often can only find relief from opioids which, thanks to the war on drugs, carry an enormous stigma and their use complicated by draconian federal drug laws.

The prospect of head shop slackers scoring a “recommendation” from their neighborhood quack because they have “pain” only makes harder the struggle of pain patients.

Though the law went into effect Dec. 14, you can’t get a recommendation to get your buzz on just yet. The Arizona Department of Health Services has to write the rules for its cultivation, dispensing and use.

A draft of those rules has been posted on the ADHS website and there is a public comment period through Jan. 7. The law requires the rules be completed by April 1.

The state would be well served to write the rules strictly so that what happened in California doesn’t happen here. While the law’s language almost guarantees that it will, there’s an opportunity through the regulatory process to require strict standards for issuing “recommendations” and for a tough inspection regimen to hold physicians, especially the dubious ones, accountable for their “recommendations.”

California voters passed a medical marijuana law in 1996 but then the state allowed feckless physicians and potheads to make a mockery of it and the people it was supposed to help. When California then asked voters to legalize all marijuana use this year, voters rejected it.

A good argument can be made about the failure of prohibition and the benefits of easing or even eradicating bans on some drugs, including marijuana.

But using people with horrible, debilitating and mortal illnesses as a beard for drug law normalization is shameful. And, as seen in California last month, voters don’t like to be made fools of. If marijuana advocates want to end prohibition, it’s in their best interest to make sure the department of health does everything it can to keep the medical in medical marijuana.

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