Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

AZ medical marijuana law exactly what I expected – a farce

No one likes an I Told You So but every now and then it’s necessary to say, “I told you so.”

At the end of last month the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission released results of a study that said about 11 percent of Arizona kids in 8th, 10th and 12th grades who admitted to smoking marijuana said they got their ganja from a medical marijuana card holder.

The law that allows 36,000 people (so far) to legally smoke or grow dope in Arizona is the result of Proposition 203, which voters passed in 2010.

In October 2010, I argued that voters should reject the proposition because the law as it was written was a sham, simply a backdoor way for dope smokers to legally get high. The law didn’t require a prescription from a board-certified physician, just a “recommendation” and it allowed homeopaths and naturopaths to also make “recommendations,” even though they are merely government-sanctioned quacks.

But voters passed it and in December 2010, I argued that it was incumbent upon the state health department to strictly regulate the law’s application and keep the medical in the “medical” marijuana law, less Arizona become like California where hopheads galore can score weed at will simply because they have “pain.”

About the same time the commission released its study, the Arizona Republic reported that of the people who had received recommendations for medical weed, barely 10 percent were getting it to treat illnesses whose symptoms marijuana is suspected of helping alleviate, cancer and glaucoma patients in particular.

The remaining 90 percent needed marijuana to relieve their “pain.”

The horrible tragedy of those statistics is that it makes a mockery of people who legitimately suffer from chronic pain and for whom marijuana might provide some relief. All these slackers getting bogus “pain” referrals make it harder for true pain suffers to be taken seriously.

The other tragedy of this farcical law is that it harms the cause of drug law normalization.

Marijuana prohibition is an abysmal failure. We spend billions of dollars a year attempting to interdict marijuana use to no avail. It’s still widely available and easily obtained irrespective of medical marijuana laws.

We all pay for its prohibition. We pay billions in taxes for the investigation, prosecution and incarceration of drug users, and billions more dealing with ancillary crimes associated with its use because its growth, importation and distribution is controlled by criminal cartels and violent urban gangs.

It makes more sense to make marijuana legal and regulate its manufacture and use like we do alcohol. Then tax it.

A state legislator this week proposed a bill to put repeal of Prop. 203 before voters again in 2014. Here’s hoping it makes the ballot and that voters pass it.

From there, marijuana normalization could proceed on a more honorable footing.

It would be more honorable for drug normalization proponents to seek full prohibition repeal rather than use cancer and pain patients as a stalking horse for legal drug use.

Prop. 203 is a dishonorable law that does more harm to the interests of people with medical conditions who might be aided by marijuana than it helps them.

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